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Frans van Coetsem

The Interaction between Dialect and

Standard Language, and the Question of
Language Internationalization
Viewed from the standpoint of the Germanic languages*

We consider here in a general survey me interaction between dialect and standard
language. First. we wil! examine the basic language concepts involved (section
1). Subsequently we wil! discuss me different forms or types of interaction bc-
tween dialect and standard language. based on the two transfer types in language
contact (section 2). We wil! men deal with language standardization (section 3).
and conclude with the broader perspective of language interaction and language
internationalization; from the viewpoint of language contact language inter-
nationalization paral!els to a significant degree language standardization (section
4). There is some overlapping between the sections. as we shall consider similar
questions from different vantage points.
While we chose to include language intemationalization in a study which was
original!y intended to be only about dialect and standard language. we broadened
the theme of our treatment considerably. so mat we had to limit our discussion in
other respects and use more references. Because of this our study has bccome
more a programmatic synmesis.
Another restriction is that the topic wil! bc handled from the standpoint of the
Germanic languages. We wil! focu s primarily on English when discussing the
conceptual basis and language internalionalization. Because of its international
status and expansion English is uniquely suited lO illustrate such issues.

1·1 Introductory remarks

We wil! start wim a discusson ofthe language concepts involved. When studying
the interaction bctween dialect and standard language in a present-day linguistic
context as compared to some decades ago. wc see that the scope of the subject has
expanded and continues to expand. In the past the dialcct-standard interaction

was seen mainly from the viewpoint of dialectology. More recently the social
aspect hecame more emphasized. Now we also concentrate on the fact that the
dialect-standard interaction is an aspect of language contact and in an important
case a form of language acquisition as weIl. Neither can we ignore language
intemationalization in so far as it is an extension of standardization and shows
certain striking parallcls with it. Such an expansion of the focus may he more a
question of methodological integration and improvement than of novelty (Daan
1985), but it requires that views from different subfields of linguistics he con-
fronted and matched, which will clearly have an effect on the concepts we use.

}·2 Dialect and language

}·2·1 Words, especiaIly contentives, have by nature a high degree of variability
and astrong potential for semantic change. This feature of naturallanguages is
designed to cope with the varying and changing semantic needs of the individual
and the society. The notions of dialect and language, even in their technical
applications, are no exceptions here . As WeIls (1982:3) notes about dialect: "In
linguistics the term is applied, often in a rather vague way, to any speech variety
which is more than an idiolect but less than a language."
In essence, i.e ., when referring to the verbal communication system, the
concepts of dialect and (standard) language are the same, and Haugen much to
the point (1987:15) states: "One man's dialect is anOther man's language." The
difference between dialect and (standard) language appcars to reside primarily in
a ranking evaluation, the dialect being viewed as subordinate and regionally
confined in relation to the (standard) language as a superordinate or overarching
language (cf. German Überdachung, Goossens 1973a, 1985). The difference in
ranking rests on a variety of factors : on difference in functionality, on geographi-
cal expansion, on language or structural distance (affinity)l and the subjective
rating of this distance by the speakers themselves (Kloss 1985: e.g., 210-1.
Weinreich 1953:69-70, 104-6).

}·2·2 The geographical or horizontal aspect of the notion of dialect is the original
and prevalent one in traditional dialectology. There are, however, social and
stylistic or vertical aspects to a dialect, as to any form of language. In its social
occurrenee any form of language is referred to as sociolect.
In the case of either dialect or language monolingualism, the social and
stylistic stratifications wiU either extend over the dialect or the language, respec-
tively. In the case of a dialcct-language bilingualism, the social and stylistic

16 Frans van Coctsem

stratifications will often extend complementarily over both the dialect and the
language (section 2-4). A term different from dialect may be used for referring to
the sociolect, as in Dutch volkstaal vs. dialect or streektaal (Weijnen 1948:7,
There are furthermore stylistic implications in the difference between the
written and the spoken language in so far as there are written and spoken styles.
In Dutch we can make a distinction bctween geschreven taal and schrijftaal or
schrijfstijl, gesproken taal and spreektaal or spreekstijl.

}·2·3 Both dialect and standard language show variation. It is in the perspective of
variation and relative uniformity that wc can view a standard language as a
reality, as a collection of vaiieties,3 and not solely as an imaginary entity, an ideal
or a norm. There is always tension bctween norm and reality, and many factors,
including subjective ones, arc involved in the delimitation bctween standard and
nonstandard. 4 Also, in dialect research social and stylistic variation is now being
rightfully emphasized with methods to describe and formalize it systematically
(cf., e .g., Chambers-Trudgill 1980: chapters 3,4 and 5).

}·2-4 Dialect and standard language arc often genetically and structuraUy closely
related, but it is not at all unusual for a standard language to expand over an area
where a genetically less rclated or nonrclated language or dialect is used (lan-
guage di stance). KJoss (1978 :60-3) calls it a dachlose Auj3enmundart 'roofless
dialect' (e.g., the Flemish dialect in France), while Goossens (1985:288) would
prefer to spcak in this connection of afremdes Dach. Such a language or dialect is
then also in a subordinate relationship to the language that functions as an
overarching standard. Indecd, the geographical area covered by a standard lan-
guage is not linguisticaIly but sociopolitically motivated .5 There is a great deal of
similarity bctween the expansion of a standard over genetically closely related
dialects and the expansion of that standard over other languages, rclated or nonre-
lated. Such an expansion also occurs in the intemationalization of a language
(section 4).

}·3 Language variety

}·3·} In synthesizing our view of the dialect-standard interaction we need a gen-
eral concept that includes the notions of dialect and language, and implies lan-
guage difference and variation in time, spacc (dialect), society (sociolect; jargon)
and style (register), as weIl as language diffcrence between the individual and the

The InteraClion bctween Dialect and Stamlard L:mguage }7

community, the spoken and the written language. We will adopt the common
notion of (language)variety, with further qualifying modifiers to signify its vari-
ous aspects.
From a general standpoint we will distinguish between an individual variety
and a communal variety. From the specific viewpoint of our topic, that is, dialect-
standard interaction as a spccific case of language contact and language acquisi-
tion, we will distinguish belween intermediate variety or short/all variety and
accent variety. From the broader pcrspcctive oflanguage intemalionalization, we
will differentiale belween intranational and national variety, and between native
and nonnative variety. The degree of functionalily is slill another criterion for
differentiating belween language varielies (cf. the above-mentioned distinction
bet ween dialect and language) . Since our laxonomy of varielies is based on
different criteria, there is overlapping and intercrossing bclween the nOlions.

1·3·2 For the sake of hierarchy, we mention first lhe dislinction between individ-
ual variety or idiolect and communal variety or wh al could bc called •communilect'
('communalect' , Kloss 1978:23), the latter indicaling any form of speech com-
munity. A general observation in lhis conneclion is thal when using here such
notions as dialect, language and language variety without any further qualifi-
cation, we refer primarily lO communities of peer speakers, whose generallinguistic
behavior can be describcd in lhe same way whelher we lhink in terms of the
individual or lhe communily; lhis is valid because of the basic concordance
between the ontogenetic and phylogenetic developmenLS. Difference in this con-
neclion should only be considered if il is relevant lO lhe argument.

1·3·3 The notions of intermediate variety / short/all variety and accent variety are
directly relevant lO our topic.
(i) An intermediate variety occurs in the acquisition process of a language. It
is intermediate in so far as il represents a developmental form in what has been
termed interlanguage in lhe process of lan!,TUage acquisilion (Selinker 1972).6
Interlanguage, which is a basic concept here, refers to an acquisilion continuum
or lO a gamut of intermediate language forms belween the leamer's language or
source language and the target language or recipient language. Within the spe-
cific context of dialect-standard interaction an intermediate variety is a develop-
mental form, a kind of compromise between the dialect and the normative stand-
ard. As Weinreich (1953 :104-6) notes, such an intermediate variety is not a
"crystallization" of a new language. Yet, it may develop lO a more or less senled
and socialized status, and also be a sociolect. To the extent that it grows inde-
pendent of interlanguage, it ceases to be an intermediate variely and becomes a

18 Frans van Coetsem

language or language variety in its own right. One might see it then more as a
short/all variety,7 in that it has. fallen short of its goal in the process of in-
(ii) An accent variety is similarly a form of dialect-standard interaction in the
interlanguage process, and thus a subset of intermediate variety / shortfalI variety.
We speak of accent variety, when accent, i.e., a set of pronunciation peculiarities
or a specific pronunciation pallem,8 is the prevalent or virtually the only char-
actcristic of the variety. It often represents the final stage of interlanguage and of
the acquisition process.
(iii) The qualifying modifiers 'intermediatc' , 'shortfall 'and 'accent' in connec-
tion with 'language variety' arc different in nature, in that 'intermediate' and
'shortfall ' teIl us about how the varietics eame into being, while 'accent' refers to
a strueturaI feature of the variety.
(iv) In line with formalions in -leet, such as dialect, the terms basilect, mesolect
and acrolect have also been used in language aequisilion (especially in creolisties)
for referring respeclively lO the leamer's language or source language (dialecl),
lhe interlanguage, and lhe larget language or reeipient language (standard lan-

1·3-4 How arc such intermediate varieties / short/all varieties and accent varie-
ties to bc further eharaelerized?
(i) The semantie contents and connolalions of nolions are historically and
culturally delermincd . In Europe, dialcets arc generally assumed lO have been
moulded to a large exlent by early, medievaI lerrilories, and they are mostly
locally restrieted, while the overarching slandard languagcs themselves arc regu-
larly developcd from those dia1cels that grew to dominance and spread . In colo-
nizalion areas sueh as the Uni lcd Slales, where English was imported, and in
Soulh Africa, where Duteh was imported and evolved to Afrikaans, there arc
virtually no dialccls in the European sense of lhe word. Yel, linguisls spcak also
of dialeets in relation to local or regional forms of Ameriean English. They then
refer to areal dislinclions whieh in a European eonlext would be seen ralher as
regional varielies of a slandard I;mguage (cf., e.g., Martinel 1960: 158). Such
regional varielies arc indeed nOL only found in colonizalion arcas, but also in
areas lhal have dialecls in lhe European eoneeplion of the word . For instanee,
there is in lhe Netherlands a Limburgie varicly of lhe Northem Dutch standard,9
and in addilion lhere arc Limburgic dia1cels. Therefore, wc will distinguish here
belween regiolect (e.g., KJoss 1978 :23, Hoppenbrouwers 1985, 1989:84), the
regional variely in queslion, and dialect, the traditional, locally restricted variety.
This dualily has been weIl reeognized in tradilional as weU as in modem Euro-

The Interaction bctween Dialect and Standard Language 19

pean dialectology. However, the link with language acquisition and interlanguage
has to be also clearly pcrceived .
A regiolect, as opposed to a dialect, has been given different names, for
example, in German Halbmundart, 'gebildete' landschaftliche Umgangssprache
(Bach 1960:230 ff.), neuer Substandard, Sekundärdialect (Schönfeld in this vol-
ume), stadtabhängiger Verkehrsdialekt (as opposed to Basisdialekt) (Wiesinger
in this volume).l0 In English the regiolect is called mainstream-dialect (either
standard or nonstandard) to distinguish it from the so-called traditional-dialect
(Trudgill in handout at the Colloquium, and Wells 1982:3 ff.) . In certain areas,
such as England and the Netherlands, regio1ccts seem to have reached a fairly
stabilized form (Stroop in this volume), while the dialects are disappearing. In
other areas, such as Switzerland, the diaIects are gene rally weIl preserved (Haas
in this volume, and cf. section 2-4).
Regiolects differ among each other in a number of ways, depcnding on such
factors as the area, the time, the social circumstances or situations, the language
distance between the dialect and the standard, etc. (cf., e.g., Lerchner, Schönfeld,
Menke and Wiesinger in this volume). Yet, there is a constant, i.e., the language
contact situation in which the dialect speaker while acquiring the standard (in the
process of interlanguage) produces a variety which is neither the dialect nor the
normative standard, but rather a more or less settled compromise product of the
There is no difficulty in applying the concept of regiolect to so-called dialec-
tal differences in colonization areas as, e .g., the United States and South Africa,
although the notion may then be less associated with rural environments. The
difference seems to bc mainly one of formation, in that regioIects in colonization
areas arc the products of strong dialectal or regional levelling probably in an
intergenerational perspective. Levelling is indeed an important factor here, al-
though it does not occur with colonization alone, but in other cases of interlingual
contact as well. l1 The major roIe of levelling in such a connection has been
recognized as early as the beginning of this century. Wrede (1912) spoke in this
perspective of Ausgleich, and the notion of Ausgleichssprache (koine), th at is,
levelled (language)variety, is now often used.
(ii) Regiolects, specifically those that occur within the same nation, are or
develop often to accent varieties, and their number seems to bc on the rise.
Accent varieties represent the last, most seuled and socialized stage ofthe interlan-
guage development. Articulatory habits belong indeed to the most stabIe and
enduring language domains. Accent is resistant, and efforts to give it up or
change it may be frustrating and psychologically costly, even forchildren (Trudgill

20 Frans van Coetsem

1975:57-8, Van Coetsem 1988:27-8). It amounts to nothing less than breaking
ingrained habits. Yet, social factors have often compelled speakers to do so.
(a) In elaborating on our definition of accent variety, we note that as a rule it
is proper to a certain geographical area, has an identifying pronunciation pattem,
but does not show any significant amount oflexical and grammatical characteris-
tics; in particular, the vocabularies of accent varieties of a language display a high
degree of similarity all over the area covered by the language within a nation.
This general characterization of accent variety ag rees quite well with what Trudgill
(in the handout of his lecture at the Colloquium) states about the development of
a mainstream-dialect (this corresponds to our intermediate variety/shortfall vari-
ety and accent variety), namely: "A probably accurate scenario is one which
involves lexical and grammatical homogenisation, but phonetic and phonological
differentiation." The rclative lexical uni rormity of accent varieties, which affects
both the active and passive knowledge of the language, is a consequence of the
strongly increased and improved communication possibilities in more recent times,
as weil as the fact that lexical items, specifically contentives, are easily transfer-
With our notion of accent variery we accord accent a status of its own as
opposed to grammar and lexicon, and so does Trudgill, as we have seen above.
Trudgill (1975: 18) and Trudgill-Hannah (1985: 1) have noted in relation to
(British) English that the distinction between dialect and standard is determined
by grammar and vocabulary, not by accent. This represents an attitude about
accent which is quite different from the one prevalent in the first half of this
century (Görlach 1988: 155).
We can speak equally weil of an accent variety in the case of the British RP
(Received Pronunciation). This is one which is not geographically restricted, but
rather "a genuinel y regionless accent wi thin B ri tain" as Trudgill-Hannah (1985 :9)
call it. It can also bc considered a sociolectal accent variety.
Accent is a pronunciation pattem that has acquired a certain distinction,
regionally and/or sociall y. One accent may have more social prestige than an-
other, which may in turn he socially stigmatized. Accent may thus not only refer
to a regiolect but also to a sociolect. The identification and social evaluation of
accent is made against the background of one's own perception of the accent
situation , a total of the individual perceptions forming an overall opinion. It is
also against this background that intelligibility of an accent is measured, where a
rclative lack of intelligibility can possibly trigger social stigmatization and rejec-
Lexical similarity bctween accent varieties is another question th at needs to
he further addressed. The development to such a similarity within modem com-

The Interaction bctween Dialect and Standard Language 21

munication conditions is not surprising since the lexicon, specifically its contentive
component, is the semantically important part of the language, and thus a major
factor in inteUigibity, which may play a role in the social acceptance of an accent
variety, as we have seen. As Stankiewicz (1957:47) observes: "The ability to
understand speakers of different speech community ... correlates more closely
with lexical similarity than with structural correspondencies between linguistic
systems." Equally significant in this connection is that the lexical deviations were
considered by far the most serious in a survey by Politzer (1978) with 148
Gerrnan teenagers, who were asked to evaluate deviations in the Gerrnan used by
English speakers. And Dillard (1985:258), when talking about varieties of
nonnative English in the prospect of intelligibility, comes to the conclusion that
"if native language syntax is not very important in the type of English spoken,
native language lexicon and idiom are extremely important". finally, while deal-
ing in particular with language distance, Kloss (1978 :64, 334-5) regards the
lexicon as "das wichtigste Merkmal". Thus, while lexical similarity is considered
the most important unifying factor, the criterion is clearly 'intelligibility'. When,
however, Weinreich (1953:70, referring to earl ier research) states that "it is major
deviations of a grammatical type, above all, that are interpreted as a split" (frag-
mentation), his criterion is not 'intelligibility' but 'structure'. The two opinions
are not in contradiction, but conceived from different angles. As far as language
fragmentation is concemed, given a continuum of language differentiation in
time or space, we have no objective linguistic criteria to decide in an exact way
when or where we can speak of different languages or of the same language
(Hudson 1980:21-71 ).12 It is precisely in such a case th at the subjective attitude of
the speaker becomes a deterrnining factor.
(b) We will now briefly examine some examples of accent varieties, both
regional and sociolectal. In American English there are a number of regional
accent varieties that are said to be socially accepted; 13 the lexicon shows then, at a
comparable sociallevel, a noticeable degree of uniforrnity from east to west and
north to south. Similarly, Northem Dutch, in the Netherlands, exhibits a remark-
able lexical uniforrnity,I4 while some regional accent differences seem to be
socially weIl accepted, in spi te of the fact that they are occasionally considered
deviations from the Northem Dutch standard. Although American English and
Northem Dutch do not in all respects represent the same situation, both exemplify
the type of regional accent variety which is viewed as not being socially stig-
matized; the accent variety is in such a case not regarded as being in a subordinate
relation to, but rather as a manifestation or a realization of, the standard language
(section 1·2·3).

22 Frans van Coetsem

In contrast to the examples of the United States and the Netherlands, a re-
gional accent in Britain carries in opposition to the RP more of a social stigma
(Hudson 1980:43).15 Such a regional accent variety thus has a sociolectal aspect.
Yet, attitudes are changing and RP in competition with native accents is now
rapidly losing ground as a pronunciation model in Britain (cf. Petyt in this vol-
Another interesting example of the sociolectal accent variety is so-called Plat
Amsterdams 'broad Amsterdam speech', which is a stigmatized accent variety of
Dutch in the town of Amsterdam. Plat Amsterdams is mainly distinguished by
accent, and has only very few lexicaI, morphological and syntactic characteris-
tics, as Schatz (1986:5, 74-5) notes. The stigmatization of an accent variety is
here the natural resuJt of the fact that Plat Amsterdams is within the same area
(Amsterdam) a sociolect, i.e., the low Amsterdam variety of Dutch, as opposed to
the high variety of Dutch as it is spoken in Amsterdam . Within such a sociolectal
perspective the accent stigmatization may be more resistant than in other cases.
(iii) That the general attitude towards regiolects is changing is a consequence
of the growing social emancipation during the last decades. Significantly in-
creased numbcrs of people have to acquire and use a standard language and in so
doing they often only reach a certain stage in the acquisition of that language. In
the process, the earlier idealistic goal of a standard as a language that does not
reveal the area of origin of the speaker has become entircly unrealistic. Instead,
regiolects th at reveal the area of origin of the speakers but all ow adequate commu-
nication appear to becoming more and more socially accepted. These may de-
velop to regiolectal standards, especially as in the case of accent varieties.
(iv) In the following summary we include the language varieties involved in
one type of interaction between dialect and standard language, with the dialect
bcing the leamer's language and the standard the target language. We match the
general notions of dialect, regiolect and standard language with the correspond-
ing ones in language contact and language acquisition:

The Interaction between Dialect and Standard Language 23


I 11
gene ral language contact/ language acquisition
1. dialect H leamer's language, source language, basilect
2. regiolect
(regiolectal standard) H interlanguage (intennediate variety / shortfall
variety, accent variety), mesolect
3. standard H target language,recipient language, acrolect
- in colonization areas: regiolect (regiolectal standard) H levelled variety

As we will discuss (section 2), there are other interaction types, such as the one in
which the relations are reversed, i.e., where the dialect is the target language and
the standard the leamer's language. AIso, once a regiolect has emerged, interac-
tion develops bet ween the regiolect and the dialect as weIl as bet ween the regiolect
and the standard.
The above represents language varieties from a geographical, regional view-
point (horizontal aspect), which is that of our topic. The sociolectal (vertical)
aspect is exemplified above by Plat Amsterdams.

1·3·5 Next, considering the broader perspective of language intemationalization,

we briefly discuss the distinctions between intranational and national varieties,
and between native and nonnative varieties of language.
(i) Having given examples of intranational varieties, we now direct our atten-
tion to the national varieties.
(a) National varieties of a language (or, as Kloss 1978:66-7 caUs them, pluri-
zentrische Hochsprachen) are also native varieties. Their mutual relationship is
complex and often differs from one case to another.They may represent different
standards, as in the case of British and American English, which exhibit lexical
(and grammatical) dissimilarities in addition to accent differences. The differ-
ences are not always clearly demarcated, and with the present "communication
explosion" lexical differences are fluid and subject to change (Algeo 1989:e.g.,
220, 222 ff.). British and American English each has its own sphere of influence
(Görlach 1988: 158), British English in South Africa, Australia and New Zealand;
American English in Canada. Within each sphere of influence the degree of
difference is a variabie. "As the two major national varieties influence each other,
they influence all other varieties of English too. And those other varieties exert a
counterinfluence on British and American" (Algeo, p. 225). As we will see,

24 Frans van Coetsem

English varieties converge lexically, as the result of the growing lexical expan-
sion of American English.
(b) The issue of social acceptance must bc raised, this time in relation to a
national variety. The case of English in Australia, another colonization area, is
interesting, although complex and still an object of debate (cf., e.g., Delbridge
1985, Horvath 1985). Australian English differs from British English through
accent and lexicon. As far as pronunciation is concemed, RP or a close variant
originally functioned as the norm. In other words, an Australian pronunciation of
English was stigmatized . Since World War 11 this appears to be changing, and a
more autochtonous English accent is becoming more and more socially accept-
able and promoted, that is, a social stigma is gradually being removed from a
national variety of English. This is a trend that we have also recognized for
intranational varieties of English.
(c) One could also distinguish an internationallanguage variety, which ex-
tends over a national border. The Limburgic variety of standard Dutch, spoken on
either side of the Dutch-Belgian border, may be considered an example. Yet,
while recognizing the impact of the national border on the language, one can also
see here closely related intranational varieties of two national varieties of Dutch,
the intranational Limburgic variety of Northem Dutch and the intranational
Limburgic variety of Southem Dutch (section 3·3·2 (i) (b)).
(ii) Besides native varieties there arc also nonnative varieties, funher differen-
tiated in institutionalized varieties and performance varieties (Kachru 1983b:48-
(a) Institutionalized varieties of English, also rcferred to as New Englishes
(e.g., Pratt et al. 1984), arc Lhe ones found, c.g., in Ghana, India, Nigeria and the
Philippines. Institutionalized varieties, which as a rule are national varieties, have
achieved a cenain degree of stability. Kachru (1983b:48-9) menLions several of
their characteristics, for example, "they have an extended range of uses in Lhe
sociolinguistic context of the nation", and "they have an extended register and
style range". The two main national varieties, British and American English, here
again have their respective sphere of inOuence: for example, British English in
Nigeria, American English in the Philippines.
As an institutionalized variety, Nigerian English provides us with a repre-
sentative case of intermediate variety / shonfall variety. In the description by
Bamgbo~e (1983), it reOects clcarly various stages in the acquisition process.
There are four varieties of Nigerian English, following the progression of the
latter's acquisition from minimal to maxima!. The 'minimal' variety is a pidgin,
while the 'maximal' variety is identical to British English spoken by Nigerians
who have been educated in England, and is thus not a Nigerian variety by itself.

The Interaction between Dialect and Standard Languagc 25

The two intennediate varieties / shortfall varicties are mainly phonologically and
lexically characterized. The one that is closest to British English, also called
Educated Nigerian English, is regarded by Bamgbo:;e (p. 102) as having the best
change of becoming the generally accepted fonn of English in Nigeria.
(b) Perfonnance varieties of English are those that are used as foreign lan-
guages all over the world, e.g., in Egypt or Japan. We will find here intennediate
varieties / shortfall varieties also, but in its most common optimal fonn a perfor-
mance variety will be an accent variety. The leamer's language is then not sub-
ordinated to the target language as in the case of dialect-standard interaction.

1·3·6 The degree of functionality mayalso serve as a yardstick to differentiate

languages and language varieties.
(i) In relation with the community that it serves, a language variety fulfills all,
some or only one of the communicative functions; this functionality thus ranges
from maximal to minimal (Cooper 1982:7ff.). A language or language variety
may be used in a functionally restricted way outside of its own area. 16
(ii) In this connection we briefly compare the notions of standard language
and internationallanguage. In general both are based on prestige, but they differ
in functionality, as the latter may serve as an auxiliary language and thus have a
limited functionality, while the former is at least intendcd to fulfill all the COID-
municative functions of the community in question. They are both distinct from
the lingua franca type of language, which is used as an auxiliary language be-
tween pcoples of different linguistic background, with the prestige criterion being
irrelevant. As always, there are borderline cases. The similarity and distinction
between language standardization and intcmationalization will be further dealt
with in section 4.

1·3·7 Concluding our discussion on language variety, we come back to the sub-
ject of social acceptance of accent in order to qualify some of our earlier state-
(i) When we speak above about the relation between accent and social stigmati-
zation, we mainly repeat current opinions. It appcars that we are presently in a
process of social 'neutralization' of accent, a process which may be in different
developmental stages from one language area to another and from one individual
speaker to another. There may he also subtIe distinctions involved, and rather
than being an either-or question, social stigmatization may be a matter of degree.
AIso, social stigmatization is overt vs. covert, conscious vs. subconscious, an
individual vs. a community feature . As we have stated, overt social stigmatization
also appears to depend on the degree of deviation of the accent and how accent

26 Frans van Coetsem

features affect intelligibility. Even in the United States, a regional accent still
triggers, consciously or unconsciously, a certain degree of stigmatization. The
stigmatized character of the Southem American accent in its most noticeable
form cannot be denied. Otherwise, why would Southem speakers living in the
North so often adapt their language and suppress the more salient characteristics
of their native accent?
(ii) As suggested, lack of stigmatization of accent seems to be the trend of the
future, at least if wh at happens in the development of English as a world language
may be considered indicative and symptomatic. When promoting RP, the ex-
pressed concern of Daniel Jones was to expand the intelligibility of English, but
this is a problem that may weil bc solved by self-regulation. Strevens (1985:28)
pointedly notes that "in the last resort, global mutual intelligibility in English is
maintained by those who need it: those who don 't need it don 't achieve it. And
those who do need it, achieve and maintain it by using the same global dialect,
standard English, because it will support any accent you care to use with it."
When Görlach (1988: 156, 168) remarks that lexical unification between national
varieties of English grows and that Iexical expansion emanates from the United
States (cf. Kahane 1983:233) and in the same way but to different degrees influ-
ences England, 17 Australia and other countrics, he concurs with Strevens' view.
In so far as a lexical expansion within the English-speaking world promotes
lexical unification, and in so far as lexical difference between national varieties of
English decreases accordingly, national varieties of English are on their way to
accent varieties. Indeed, while ackowledging the growing lexical unifïcation of
national varieties, Görlach also mentions that the difference in pronunciation
norms seems rather to increase than to decrease. With the strong trend to social
levelling and egalitarism, the future does not seem to favor stigmatization of an
accent, especially one that does not do anything other than simply reveal the
speaker's area of origin. 1S

2·} The dialect-standard interaction as a case of language contact: the two

transfer types
2·1 ·1 The interaction between dialect and standard language is a particular case of
language contact, the latter implying competition and change. We will first sum-
marize our general view of language contact, as we have discussed it in detail in
our monograph on loan phonology of 1988. In language contact there is a source
language, the si, and a recipient language, the rl. These form a transfer relation (in
the general sense of the word), with language material bcing transmitted from the
si to the rl:

Thc Inlcraclion bclwccn Dialecl and Slandard Language 27

sI ~ rl

We have to differentiate further between two transfer types depending on whether

the si speaker or the rl speaker is the agent of the action. If in the transfer of
material from the si to the rl the rl speaker is the agent. the action is borrowing or
what we have called rl agentivity. If. however. in the transfer of material from the
si to the rl the si speaker is the agent. the action is imposition 19 or what we have
called si agentivity. In determining which of the speakers. the rl speaker or the si
speaker. is the agent of the action. we use the criterion of linguistic dominanee.
the Iatter referring to the fact th at the speaker has a grcater knowiedge or profi-
ciency in one of the two Ianguages. In rl agentivity (borrowing). the rl speaker
has by definition a greater proficiency in the rl than in the si. and he is therefore
linguistically dominant in the rl: as a bilingual he is an rl biIinguai (RL / sI). If we
use capitalization to indicate the Iinguistically dominant member in the transfer
relation between si and rl. rl agentivity can be adequately represented as follows:


In si agentivity (imposition). on the other hand. the si speaker has a greater

proficiency in the si than in the rl. and he is thus linguistically dominant in the si:
as a bilingual he is an si bilingual (SL/ rl). Using again capitalization si agentivity
is as follows :

SL ~ rl

In practice there will often be differences in linguistic dominance in the bilingual

individual and/or in the bilingual community between parts of the rl and si.
differences which can be ascribcd to functional dissimilarities. Furthermore there
may be shifts in Iinguistic dominance from one time to another in the individual
and in the community. Also. a bilingual virtually may have the same proficiency
in the rl and in the si. reducing to zero the difference in Iinguistic dominance
between the contacting Ianguages. In such a case the difference between the two
transfer types also tends 10 be neutralized.
A very important fact is that language has a constitutional property of sta-
bility. Certain Ianguage components or domains (e.g .• phonology) are more sta-
bIe. whiie other such domains are Icss stabie (e.g .. vocabuIary). There are thus

28 Frans van CoelSem

differences of stability in language, which were already recognized in the previ-
ous century and are often referred to in the literature. However, distinction in
stability based on language domains is an oversimplification. Forexample, within
the vocabulary itself, it is necessary to distinguish between a more stabIe primary
vocabulary, including, e.g., functors, and a less stabie secondary vocabulary,
generally contentives. While we mention in our monograph a number of factors
in stability, such as frequency, structuredness and saliency, we also conclude (p.
34) "that both the elaboration of a precise and detaiJed hierarchy ofthe stability of
language constituents, domains or subdomains and the investigation of code-
termining and counteracting factors or circumstances remain very much concerns
for future research". In ongoing research on the interaction bctween dialect and
standard language in Twente (the Netherlands), Van Bree (1985, and in this
volume) focuses on the question of stability. Whereas we saw consciousness and
abstraction as one of the factors in stability (p. 33), he convincingly argues th at
the degree of stability of language constituents arc primarily related to the degree
of consciousness and abstraction, although he does not ignore other factors (cf.
also Van Bree 1990: 307-10).20
A language in contact with another language will tend to maintain its stabIe
domains or subdomains. If the rl speaker is the agent, he will tend to preserve the
more stabIe domains or subdomains of his language, e.g., his phonology, while
accepting vocabulary items from the sI. Ir.
on the other hand, the si speaker is the
agent, he wilI also tend to preserve the more stabIe domains or subdomains of his
language, e.g., his phonology and specifically his articulatory habits, which means
th at he will impose them upon the ri.
In borrowing, lhe transfer of malcrial from lhe si lO the rl primarily concerns the
less stabie domains or subdomains, particularly vocabulary, whilc in imposition,
such a lmnsfer involves the more stabie domains or subdomains, particularly
Consequently, each transfer type has its own characteristic general effect on the
rl, and consideration of the two transfer types with the stability factor accordingly
has predictive power.
Confusion of the two transfer types, which has been a common fact in previ-
ous research and a serious obstacle to our understanding of language contact, has
lcd many scholars to believe th at everything from phonology to semantics can be
'borrowed'. Virtually everything can indeed be 'transferred' or 'transmitted'
from one language or dialect to another, but part occurs through borrowing or ri
agentivity and part through imposition or si agentivity .

The Interaction between Dialect and Standard Language 29

2·1·2 From the viewpoint of the two transfer types there are four basic linguistic
forms of interaction between dialect and standard language. In each of rl agentivity
(diagram (3» and sI agentivity (diagram (4» there are two possibilities depending
on whether the borrowing occurs from the dialect into the standard language or
from the standard language into the dialect, or whether the imposition occurs
from the dialect upon the standard language or from the standard language upon
the dialect. Using again capitalization for indicating the linguistically dominant
member, we can represent the four interaction types as follows:


si ~ rl
1. DIALECT ~ standard (si agentivity, imposition by dialect)
2. standard ~ DIALECT (rl agentivity, borrowing by dialect)
3. dialect ~ STANDARD (rl agentivity, borrowing by standard)
4. STANDARD ~ dialect (sI agentivity, imposition by standard)

Another factor, social dominanee, is less relevant in this context, as it does not
affect the cases as such, the standard normally being the sociaUy dominant lan-
guage. We will now consider the different cases of dialect-standard interaction.

2·2 The four basic forms or types of dialect-standard interaction

2·2·1 The first basic form of interaction bctwecn the dialect and the standard
language, which we will caU interaction type }, is si agentivity, with the dialect
imposing upon the standard languagc (DIALECT ~ standard).
(i) This type of dialect-standard intcraction is very important, as it underlies
to a significant extent the process of language standardization (section 3). With
the development and expansion of a standard language a dialect speaker will
Ie am and use that language. We arc thus faccd hcre primarily with second lan-
guage acquisition, in which the si or the dialect is the linguistically dominant
leamer's language, while the ri or the standard language is the target language.
In second language acquisition we have two different leaming situations, the
'artificial' classroom-environmcnt situation and the 'natural' reallife situation.
Both situations are applicable in the case of a dialect speaker acquiring the
(ii) The second language acquisition proccss involves generally four variabie
factors, which rcpresent opcrations, namcly : acquisition, imposition, internally

30 Frans van Coetsem

induced change, and reduction. Imposilion is aClually a form of eXlernally in-
duced change, while intemally induced change has eilher a language specific or a
universal characler. To these opcralions evaluation procedures may he applied,
such as simplification and complication. For example, an imposition may arnount
to simplification in one case and to complication in another; this also corresponds
to what Weinreich (1953: 18) has called under-differentiation and over-difJerentia-
tion. An opcration may be viewed from other angles. For example, an intemally
induced change may bc a regularization or an overgeneralization. The greater the
language distance bctween the dialect and the standard language, the Iess exten-
sive will be the operation of the four variabIe faclors. Especially intemally in-
duced change and reduction will be minimal if the dialect and the standard are
closely related genetically. The variabIe factors arc not equally represented in all
forms of second language acquisition, and they do not uniformly apply to each of
the rl' s domains or subdomains. Although they interact, and may in some cases
be difficuIt to distinguish, each of the variabIe factors has its own development.
Using 'maxima\' and 'zero' as dclimiting polcs, their developments can be repre-
sented as follows :

,------------~~ ~ -~~ - _. _-_._- - --------,

acquisition zero - - - - - - - - - - - - - 7 ) max.

imposition max. - - - - - - - - » zero
int.ind. change zer.o -----t max. ---7 zero language-specific
I max. - - - - - - - - » zero universal
reduction max. - - - - - - - - » zero

Van Leuvensteijn (personal communication) point" out an interesting distinction

in focus between acquisition and imposition on the one hand, and intemally
induced change and reduction on the olher. With acquisition and imposition we
refer primarily lo lhe eXlremes, i.c., lhe slandard and lhe dialecl, respeclively,
while with intemally induccd change and reduction it is the intermediate area,
i.c., interlanguage, which is brought lO the foreground.
(iii) We will now consider lhe variabIe factors separatcly.
(a) The acquisition process of the rl or target language evolves from zero to
maxima\. The dialect speaker's attention will primarily be directed towards the
contentive part ofthe standard's vocabulary, th at is, the semantic hard core ofthe
slandard language; il is lhe mOSl dynamic and versalile subdomain and also the
most readily acquired. In case of a dialectthat is genetically c10sely related to the

The lnleraction bctween Dialect and Standard Language 31

standard language, the care vocabulary of the dialect will not be all that different
from the standard language vocabulary. The dialect speaker will then apply so-
called correspondence rules (also cal led input-switch rules, conversion rules,
even transformation rules): x of the dialect corresponding to y of the standard
language in one set, x of the dialect is converted to yin the standard language in a
correspondent set (e.g., Moosmüller 1988, Stem 1988). For example, in dialectal
Dutch loaten and moaken [:>:] corresponding to laten and maken ofthe standard,
droagen of the dialect will be converted to dragen of the standard. Lexical simi-
larity (section 1·3·4 (ii) (a» and correspondence rules, i.e., linkage between the
lexico-semantic and the phonological-grammatical levels, are precisely the ele-
ments that underlie the structuralist notion of diasystem (Weinrcich 1954, Goossens
1969: 18-22 with further references). Correspondence rules are basic in the acqui-
sition process of a genetically closely related standard language or dialect; in this
connection affinity between dialect and standard language is therefore an im-
portant factor. However, correspondence rules lead to overgeneralization or
hypercorrection (Trudgill 1986:66fl) and consequentJy to intemally induced change
«c) below).
(b) Imposition evolves from maximal to zero and thus counters acquisition.
Through the acquisition process, the dialect speaker keeps imposing parts or
elements of his dialect, the si, upon the standard language, the rl. Such parts
include primarily the most stable domains or subdomains of the dialect, for
example, the phonology. specifically articulatory habits. It is through the imposi-
tion of si articulatory features upon the rl that an accent originates.
Also, the morphology is a very stabie domain, and is not transferred in its
entirety to the rl or target language. When the dialect and the standard language
are genetically closely related. they normally share a great deal and especially the
basic part of their morphologies. and separate morphological elements or usages
may be imposed from the dialect upon the standard language.21
During the acquisition of a standard language by a dialect speaker the im-
position process also includes elcments from less stabie domains or subdomains,
such as vocabulary items. but these generally offer less resistance and show a
strong tendency to disappear. Yct, more stabie clements of the vocabulary, such
as functors, especially prepositions, which indicate grammatical relations, are
also often maintained and imposed upon the standard even after subjective com-
pletion ofthe acquisition process (Nuytens 1962:e.g., 123-5. Van Coetsem 1988:70
and Van Bree in this volume).
If the dialect is genetically less related or nonrelated to the standard language,
the acquisition process amounts 10 foreign language lcaming and will therefore
be more elaborate. although here again accents develop.

32 Frans van Coetsem

In connection wi!h what has been stated above about consciousness as a
stability factor (section 2·1·1), it is interesting to consider here what Labov
(1972:178 ff.) has called a changefrom be/ow, !hal is, a change occurring below
the level of consciousness, and a change from above, that is, a change occurring
above the level of consciousness. Imposilion is a form of extemally induced
change and seems in principle lO be a change from below. In general the leamer,
i.e., the dialect speaker, is nOL aware lhal he imposes his own dialeclal usage upon
the targellanguage, i.e., lhe slandard language, allhough he may become aware of
it in certain cases (cf. now Guy 1990:in particular 51,54-5).
(c) The third variabIe faclor, intemally induced change, has a dual character
in that it is language-specific or universal. Intemally induced change will indeed
he activated on lhe basis of a language-specific requirement, evolving from zero
to maximal to zero, or when a structure emerges thal violatcs universal principles,
evolving from maximal to zero.
The following is an example of language-specific intemally induced change.
It is a case of a correspondence rule lhal is overgeneralized. While lhe dialect
speaker is lcaming the slandard language, he is nol aware of all the differences
bctween the dialect and lhe slandard, and as a result he may apply overgeneraliza-
lion or hypercorreclion. For example, lhe plural damen of dame 'lady', which is
or was quile common in Sou!hem DUlCh, is in line wilh !he rule of plural forma-
lion of DulCh words in -e, e.g., zedc 'custom " plural zeden . Yet, in Northem
Dulch a great number of words in -c can have a plural in -n or -s, e.g., ziekte
'sickness', plural ziekten or ziektes, although in such cases the plural in -s is
usually felt as more colloquial. The lwo plural formations are also found in
foreign words, e.g., periode, plural periodes or perioden, apparently wilhout
much difference in stylistic connotation. In Northem Dutch !he word dame [da:m;:,]
can, however, only be dames in !he plural, and !his usage is followed in the
Soulhem Dutch standard. The Southem DulCh plural damen is !herefore an inler-
nally induced usage (overgeneralizalion of lhe -n plural formation) th at also
occurred in Soulhem DulCh dialecls, here mostly in !he form dammen, singular
damme, lhe latter wilh the short f al yowel in accordance wilh lhe French pronun-
Inlemally induced change is lO be equaled wi!h change from below, !hat is, a
change lhal occurs below !he level of consciousness. As such il occurs automali-
cally. In lhe case of overgeneralizalion lhe dialecl speaker has lO be made aware
of !he exception in lhe slandard language.
(d) Reduction, which is lhe fourth variabIe factor lo be considered, affecls in
particular lhe infleclional morphology. As far as wc arc involved in an acquisition
process, reduclion is a proficicncy-rclated strategy bascd on avoidance. Here

The lnleraclion bclween Dialecl and SlandaHI Lmgu age 33

again, Ûle degree of affinity between dialect and standard language is an impor-
tant factor. Indeed, reduction occurs most obviously when the contacting lan-
guages are genetically less related or nonrelated, especially as in pidginization.
On the other hand, in the case of a dialect and a genetically c10sely related
standard language, reduction plays only a minor role and concerns individual
elements or minor pans of the language. For instance, while leaming the stan-
dard, the dialect speaker may avoid using cenain words of Ûlat standard. 23
(e) While the discussed variabIe factors (acquisition, imposition, intemally
induced change and reduction) refer to operations, Ûlere are other variables, such
as age and gender of the speakers, which affect interlingual contact and in par-
ticular Ûle interaction bctween dialect and standard language. 2A
(iv) As our analysis of Ûle variable factors suggests, the acquisition process of
a standard language starting from a dialect is a gradual development.
(a) Dialect, the lcamer's language or si, and standard language, the target
language or rl, are Ûle poles ofÛle acquisition continuum, along which Ûle acquisi-
tion process of Ûle standard language proceeds in a gamut of intermediate or
compromise developments (e.g., Wiesinger in this volume); such intermediate
varieties constitute, as wc have seen, the interlanguage process, and they reflect
what we have called the regiolect. 25 The concept of interlanguage is character-
ized by a high degree of variability,26 and so are the intermediate language real-
izations in Ûle acquisition process of a standard language . For example, Southem
Dutch (as used in Belgium), being still in the process of standardization, illus-
trates quite clearly the great variability that characterizes the interlanguage phe-
nomenon. Although we were not the first to do so, more than Ûliny years ago we
noted a broad variation range in the standardizing process of Dutch in Belgium. 27
Similarly, when speaking of landçchaftliche Umgangssprache and Halbmundart,
Bach (1950:5 and 230) states that these show "OieBende Übergänge von groBer
Schwingungsbreite", Ûlat is, •flowing transitions of a broad swinging range'.
(b) The interlanguage development may be intenupted as in the case of
pidginization. Or the acquisition process may not bc objective1y completed, and
in the dialect-standard interaction regiolects, e.g., shortfal1 varieties and accent
varieties, develop (section 1·3·3). The acquisition process is then counteracted by
the other variabIe factors. imposition, intemally induced change and reduction;
there may be also no motivation or need on the pan of the language leamer to
complete objectively Ûle acquisition process.
(c) Wc have noted (section 2·1·1) th at a bilingual may develop the same or a
comparable proficiency in the rl and in the si. In such a case the tendency is
towards zero difference in linguistic dominance bet ween the contacting languages
and towards neutralization of the difference between the transfer types. Whereas

34 Frans van Coctsem

with dear-cut rl or sl agentivity each transfer type has its own characteristic
general effect on the rl, with neutralization of the difference bctween the transfer
types, the effect on the rl, here the dialect or the standard, is usually less character-

2·2·2 The second basic fonn of interaction between dialect and standard lan-
guage, interaction type 2, is rl agenlivily, with lhe dialect borrowing from the
standard language (standard ~ DIALECT). The borrowing primarily concerns the
vocabulary, especially ils contentive component. The dialect borrows more and
more words from lhe standard and loses his lexical characteristics, the dialect
bccoming lexically more similar to lhe standard. There is consequently on the
lexicallevel dialect-standard or vertical convergence, which occasions interdialectal
or horizontal convergence. 28 For example, while in the Netherlands the Northern
Dutch standard exhibits regional 'accenL<;', as wc have seen (section 1·3-4 (ii)
(b», it alsó shows a comparativcly st rong lexical unifonnity, and influences the
Northern Dutch dialects, which give up more and more their lexical peculiarities.
While interaction type 1 is the most common fonn of sl agentivity and impo-
sition, interaction type 2 is the most common fonn of rl agentivity and borrowing.
There are numerous examplcs of this interaction type. It occurs quite naturally in
the contact between immigrant languages such as Norwegian and English in the
United Slales. A very famous case is also the conlact belween Middle English
and Nonnan French, described in some detail by Van Coetsem (1988: 131 ff.).
Another example is the contact bet ween Dutch and Frisian, the latter as used in
the northwestern part of lhe Netherlands. As a language dislinct from Dutch,
Frisian reacls to the influence of Dutch in a similar way as the Northern Dutch
dialects do. The genera! profile of lhe Frisian-Dutch language contact is that of rl
agentivity, Frisian borrowing from Dutch, aILhough sl agentivity is also involved
in particular cases. While in thal process the Frisian lexicon is to an important
extent bcing dutchified, Frisian preserves beller its own phonology and morphol-
ogy. Yet, there is an important attitudinal factorthat counteracts the dutchification
of the Frisian lexicon, a factor that is far stronger in Frisian than in the Northern
Dutch dialects, Le., the Frisians' conscious perscverance to maintain their Iin-
guistic and cullural identity.
Borrowing often goes with phonological, grammatical and/or lexical adapta-
tion (Van Coetsem 1988:8). In th is way the borrowing languagc or dialect re-
ceives new malerial, whilc prescrving and even reinforcing its phonological,
morphological and lexical characteristics. Recently Gerritsen-Brussaard (1989: 138
ff.) ilIustrated such a case of borrowing with adaptation. Dutch dialects that have
the word kaste for standard Dutch kast 'cupboard, etc.', have borrowed standard

The Intcraction bctwccn Dialcct and Standard Languagc 35

Dutch ijskast 'refrigerator' mostly as ijskaste, that is, with lexical adaptation. It is
noteworthy that the adaptation took place in a majority of cases, ho wever, not all
the time, because imitation or borrowing may prevail over adaptation.

2·2·3 The third basic form of interaction between dialect and standard language,
interaction type 3, is again rl agentivity, with the standard language borrowing
from the dialect (dialect ~ STANDARD). Since the standard is the rl, interaction
type 3 may affect the standard directly, although usually only in a minor way. As
noted, borrowing will then primarily affect the Iess stabIe domains or subdo-
mains, th at is, the vocabulary, specifically its contentive component. In so far as
the standard language is socially dominant vs. the dialect, borrowing from a
dialect into the standard language will in general only be motivated by need, e.g.,
for achieving certain (stylistic) effects, or when regional words or phrases refer to
objects, situations or views which show a wider than local interest or application.
For example, the word Rucksack was originally Upper German used in the
Alemannic dialects of the Alpine areas (cf. dialectal Ruck without umlaut vs.
standard German Rücken). The word Rucksack was borrowed into standard Ger-
man, and also into English. Here again with borrowing, phonological, grammati-
cal and lexical adapatation may occur. For examplc, Dutch rugzak represents a
lexical adaptation of German Rucksack.

2·2·4 The fourm basic form of interaction between dialect and standard language,
interaction type 4, is si agentivity, but this time me standard language is the si and
the linguistically dominant language (STANDARD ~ dialect). The standard speaker
imposes standard usage upon the dialect. He may do so while acquiring the
dialect. If both the dialect and me standard are maintained, we have a situation of
stable bilingualism (Fishman 1972: 91 ff., Louden 1988) or additive bilingualism
(Romaine 1989:e.g., 107 referring to W. Lambert); if on the omer hand, the
standard is acquired and used atthe cost ofme dialect, we have a case of subtractive
bilingualism and possibly of dialect attrition, which we will discuss next.

2·3 Language or dialect attrition and death

2·3·1 Thatlanguages and dialccts are subject to allrition, th at they can go out of
usage or ' die', is a commonly known fact. Allrition does nog mean that the
process lacks systematicity (e.g., Van Marle 1990:24ff.). Language contact, be-
ing a form of compctition, implies sclection and mus also elimination. As there
are different forms and aspects of aurition and death, a number of taxonomies

36 Frans van Coctscm

have been proposed and distinctions made, such as between intragenerational and
intergenerational attrition, between attrition in the individual speaker and attrition
in the community, between attrition in the first and the second language, etc.
(Van Els 1986:4, Jaspaert 1986:37 ff.) . Also, distinctions are based on the kinds
of death situations, e.g., sudden death and gradual dcath, or on the processes in
dying languages, etc. (Campbell-Muntzci 1989). Hamp (1989:204 ff.) distin-
guishes bctween death "without capitulation" and dealh "with accommodation".
As an area of investigation, language or dialect attrition and death is still in an
organizational stage. 29
A point to remembcr is lhal languages and dialects arc communicative func-
tions ofthe human bcing. As such, lhey do not 'live' and 'die' . We should be weU
aware that the metaphoric use of such notions as life, obsolescence and death in
connection with language may be misleading.

2·3·2 In the literature the notion of attrition refers to two cases, one in which the
dialect is being lost through a compromise process in the interlanguage develop-
ment, and another one in which the dialect is being lost as a direct result of the
lack of functionality and usage. Although there may be inlermediary forms, in the
former case, the result is a merger (the product of which being usually different
from the target language), in the latter case, it represents an actualloss:

x y x y
J, J, J,
z x o
(i) In the first case, a speaker, acquiring a second or foreign language and be-
coming linguistically dominant in il, loses proficiency in his own language; in
particular, a dialect speaker, acquiring and using a standard language, loses profi-
ciency in his dialect. This may result in the latter's attrition, which happens not
only in the case of individual speakers, but also in the case of speech communi-
ties. This common form of dialect attrition represents the reverse of language
acquisition, as it is the complementary losing of the dialect in the acquisition
process of the standard during lhe interlanguage development. In this losing of
the dialect the same variabie factors as in interaction type 1 (imposition, inter-
nally induced change and reduction) seem la be opcrative in the dialect, of course,
with the exception of acquisition. However, what is affected first and foremost by
change and attrition is evidently the lexicon, as it is, as we have noted (section

The Interaction bctwcen Dialect and Standard Language 37

2·1·1), the least stabie domain (cf. also Hinskens 1986, Vousten-Smits-Schroen
The development that we consider is a succession of two forms of si agen-
tivity, one with imposition of the dialect upon the standard (interaction type 1),
and one with imposition of the standard or a variety of the standard upon the
dialect (interaction type 4) (see, e.g., Van Bree in this volume). The linguistic
dominance shifts from the dialect to the standard (or a variety of the standard,
regiolect); the native dialect becomes the second language (dialect) while the
standard (regiolect) shifts from second to first language. Usually the succession
of the two forms of si agentivity appcar to extend over different generations.
It seems that in this case of attrition similar changes are found in both 'healthy'
and 'dying' language developments. In concrete examples it is then difficult if
not impossible to establish whcthcr wc are dealing with reflexes of language
attrition or language contact. In the Dutch area the Limburgic dialect of Maastricht
has been considered from the viewpoint of dialect attrition (Münstermann-Hagen
1986:79, 81,84, Münstermann 1989:66-100), although the dialect still covers a
"fuU range of functions". In this case the idea of attrition is clearly based on the
general assumption that the Dutch dialects are somehow disappearing. However,
are the considered changes really indicative of attrition? For example, in the
dialect of Maastricht a number of verbs belong to the weak conjugation while
their standard equivalents belong to the strong conjugation (e.g., Dutch schuiven
'to shove, push, slide '). Since in a norm al development as weU as in some forms
of language contact the general trend in the Gcrmanic languages is to give up the
strong conjugation (cf., e.g., Afrikaans, Van Coetsem 1988:142-3), one might
expect the Maastricht dialect to maintain the weak verbs. However, wh at really
happens is that the weak verbs in that dialect are being replaced by their strong
counterparts from standard Dutch. Such a replacement is clearly nothing other
than imposition from standard Dutch upon the Maastricht dialect, which thus
loses indeed one of its characteristics. However, is imposition in this context a
reflex of regular language contact or of language attrition?
(ii) In the second case of attrition, as a result of lack of functionality and
usage a language or dialect is actuaUy being lost. Structural change and loss take
place, which themselves result from loss of function; loss is also no longer com-
It remains to be determined what the characteristic symptoms, the 'diagnos-
tic' changes ofthis case oflanguage attrition and death are, what constitute, in the
terms of Hamp (1989), the "signs of health and death" (cf. also Jaspaert et al.
1986:40). We have to make a distinction between structural (internal) and social
(external) characteristics. Perhaps we may formulate as a hypothesis that ifthere

38 Frans van Coetsem

are structural characteristics of attrition, they will be represented in those kind of
changes that occur nowhere c1se than with imposition (si agentivity) upon a
socially nondominant language or dialect (which is interaction type 4 in the
context of the dialect-standard interaction). As to the social indicators of lan-
guage or dialect attrition, they are found in the functionality and usage of the
language or dialect, for example, in a rapid decline of the number of its speakers.

2·4 Diglossia and code switching

Diglossia and code switching offer also examples of dialect-standard interaction.
While diglossia refers to a language contact situation, as do biJingualism or
multilingualism, code switching is like the transfer types a process or strategy
used in a language contact situation. Future research will have 10 concentrate here
on problems of definition and delimitation.
Diglossia expresses a functional complemcntarity often with prestige differ-
ence of H[igh] and L[ow] bctween the languages, language varietics or dialects
involved (e.g., Fisman 1972:91 ff., Romaine 1989:31 ff., Haugen 1987:92 ff.), for
example, Nynorsk and Bokmi'll in Norway (Yenäs and Hanssen in this volume),
Swiss German dialects and Swiss standard High German.
Code switching is a shift from onc language or dialect to another by the same
speaker and within the same speech act or within the course of a conversation
(e.g., Lehiste 1988:93, Romaine 1989: 110 ff. with further references, and Macha
in this volumc).30 Further investigation will have to focus on the delimitation of
code switching vis-à-vis the two transfer types, as weU as on the constraints to
code switching. The question of code switching between dialect and standard
language has been discusscd, for cxamplc, by Giesbers (1989), who confronts the
theory with a corpus of data from a Limburgic diaJcct in the Nethcrlands, and by
Werlen (1988: 1I1 ff.), who cxamines cases of code switching bctween Swiss
standard High German and Swiss Gcrman diaJccts in mcdical interviewsY

2·5 Pragmatic aspects

Finally, pragmatic aspccts of language play also a role in dialect-standard inter-
action. Language ordialectal diffcrcnces can be more thanjust phonic, grammati-
cal or lexica!. There is, for example, the case of positive or negative response tags
to the same question or statement, dcpending on the area in Southern Dutch
(Belgium), e.g., het is toch maar weinig 'it is only a littlc', with the response
(confirmation) ja 'yes' in the eastern part, and nee( n) 'no' in the western part

The Interaction between Dialect and Standard Language 39

(example mentioned by O. Leys; cf. also Meeussen 1943). Such a usage is trans-
mitted from the dialect to the standard (interaction type 1).

3·1 Aspects and components of language standardization

Language standardization, which is our next subject, can be considered from
different angles (e.g., Joseph 1987). We will discuss the points that appear most
germane to our topic. The components of language standardization, commonly
referred to in sociolinguistics and which we will incorporate in our treatment, are
selection, codification, elaboration offunction and acceptance (Hudson 1980:33,
referring to E. Haugen). We will start with a discussion of the community of
interaction as the sodal correlate of the speech community.

3·2 Community of interaction and speech community

3·2·1 Language or dialect is an open system that by nature is subject to change. It
can absorb new elements or give up material that is no longer functional. Lan-
guage has a great potential to satisfy the communicative needs of the community
that uses it. While the general question of adequacy between society and lan-
guage is very important and deserves to be extensively discussed, we cannot go
into it here. Directly relevant to our topic is that language standardization shows
how a geographical expansion of a community is parallelled by a corresponding
spread of its language, and this is a point that we will examine more closely.

3·2·2 When speaking of a community and its geographical expansion, we actually

refer to what has been called in German dialectology a Verkehrsgemeinschaft
(Bach 1950:80 ff.), or a Kommunikationsgemeinschaft (Besch 1988:205), that is,
a community of (social) interaction. In English we often speak rather loosely of
community, without any further qualification, or of group (subgroup). The com-
munity of sodal interaction is intended here as a general concept covering any
form of human community, also the speech community;32 language is indeed a
universal and basic component of society. Of crucial significance is the corre-
lation between the community of interaction and the speech community.33
A community of interaction exerts a centralizing and cohesive effect, and
forms the social setting for the expansion and contraction of linguistic phenom-
ena. It corresponds to a communication need with a variety of motivations
(Mattheier 1988). Communities of interaction are of varying nature and of differ-
ent form and size, in that they refer, for example, to political, administrative,

40 Frans van Coetsem

economie, cultural, religious and other units. They also differ by their impact on
speech. For example, a nation, as a political and administrative unit, has a far
greater impact on speech than acultural organization. Communities of interac-
tion, including and intersecting one another in hierarchical and intercrossing
relationships, form totalities, in which political and administrative boundaries (as
in the case of nations) appear to be most basic and prevalent. The complexity of
such totalities and their modifications in the course of time not only account for
the specific character of dialect boundaries as bundIes of isoglosses, but also for
the irregularly intercrossing pattem of isoglosses. The isogloss, demarcating one
linguistic feature, is thus the corrc1ate of a social (political, cultural, etc.) bound-
ary, while isoglosses in their various conligurations (e.g., Goossens 1969: 15-8)
are the synchronic compression of the expansion or contraction of successive
changes in the diachronic perspective. In other words, communities of interaction
and their modifications form the social settings for what happens in and with
speech communities, namely, divergence and convergence,34 the presence or ab-
sence of a community of interaction respectively having a unifying or diversify-
ing intluence on speech.
This macroscopie view of the relation between societal development and
language evolution, between communities ofinteraction and bundles ofisoglosses,
is a meaningful one, in spite ofthe fact that we are generally not able to correlate
the various isoglosses to their respective communities of interaction, because we
are very insufficiently informed about the societal development in question. In
general history keeps better track of politieal and administrative boundaries than
of other demarcation lines.
Another matter concerns the general background against which language
standardization takes place, as a converging phenomenon within a given commu-
nity of interaction. Standardization may vary from one place to another and from
one time to another. There is a marked difference in nature, extension and cohe-
siveness between communities of interaction in the past and the present. An
originally prevalent divergence is being gradually replaced by a dominant con-
vergence. An important stage in that development was the forming of nations
with their particularly strong and centralizing administrative apparatus and their
hierarchical organization; until recent! y cuius regio, eius lingua (Décsy 1973: 171-
2) has been an often occurring rule of govemment. Nation forming is, however,
not the end of the development, since communities of interaction are now be-
coming larger and are growing to global proportions. Standardization is being
strongly promoted by sociopolitical, socio-economic and sociocultural changes,
by increasing industrialization and technological advances, by greater population

The Interaction between Dialect and Standard Language 41

mobility, and by the development and improvement of mass media that con-
stantly reduce di stance and unify more and more the planet.

3·3 How does language standardization co me about and develop?

3·3·1 First, how do the dialect-standard interaction types discussed in section 2
relate to standardization? The first form of interaction between dialect and stan-
dard language, interaction type 1, i.e., si agentivity, is the one that basically
underlies language standardization. 35 While the standard language is being formed
and acquired, the dialect imposes upon the standard language (D1ALECf ~ stand-
ard); there is here an acquisition continuum (interlanguage), to which corre-
sponds a standardization continuum. The other types of dialect-standard interac-
tion co-occur or are involved with standardization, but are of secondary signifi-
cance from the viewpoint of standardization. Interaction type 3 has a direct,
usually minor, effect on the standard. Interaction types 2 and 4, as weIl as dialect
attrition affect the subordinated dialects, not the standard (cf. diagram (5)).
From the stand point of the interaction types the notion of standardization can
therefore have two meanings a narrow, specific one, when only the effect on the
standard is considered (interaction types 1 and 3), and an extended one, when the
effect on the subordinated dialccts is additionally taken into account (all interac-
tion types and dialect attrition). We will use the notion of standardization in both
senses, with the context revealing which meaning is involved.

3·3·2 Language standardization consists of two aspects, the formation of a stan-

dard language and its spread. These two aspects are usuaIly intimately inter-
(i) In a common scenario, the dialect of a particular region becomes dominant
among other dialects.
(a) The development to dominance of this particular dialect, the synecdochic
diaLect as Joseph (1987:e.g., 2) caUs it, normally goes together with the growth to
poli ti cal , economical and cultural supremacy of the region in question. In this
context to become dominant means that a dialect, which is a locallanguage with a
restricted functionality, broadcns its domain of opcration. There are differences
between dialect and language that arc implied in their distinct functionality, such
as that the dialect is usually not written or codified while the standard language is.
The emerging standard is indeed strongly supported by a wrinen form and fol-
lows a development of its own as compared to the dialect or dialects from which
it originated (cf. Van Leuvensteijn in this volume); it also undergoes levelling.

42 Frans van Coetsern

The development of standard English in Britain, with Southern England and
in particular the region of London as the standardizing area, offers an example of
a development that consistently remains within the same area. In other cases the
standardization proceeds along a more sinuous path. FoIIowing the changing
centers ofpolitical, economical and cuItural hegemony, we see, forexample, how
the standardization of Dutch started out on a modest scale in the South, in Flan-
ders and subsequently in Brabant, and continued around the end of the 16th
century in the North, specificaIIy in Holland, where it could develop unhindered.
This represents a relocation of the gravity center of standardization, again largely
supported by a written form (cf. also Goossens 1985).
(b) A standard language as a dominant language wiJJ quite naturally spread
from its original geographicallocation to the urban centers of other regions in the
greater community of interdction, subsequently expanding from these urban centers
to the surrounding rural areas (Kloeke 1927, Trudgill 1974).
This expansion is strongest within the limiL'i of the basic (political and ad-
ministrative) community of interaction. Above (section 3·2·2) we have repeatedly
mentioned political and administrative boundaries as formatives of communities
of interaction that have a significant speech-differentiating impact. For example,
the expansion of the standard language in the Netherlands went on and is still
going on, gradually and naturally, within the national boundaries of the Kingdom
of the Netherlands. On both sides of the Dutch-Belgian border, people speak or
spoke the same or similar dialects, which are (were) thus clearly part of a dialect
continuum . However, the standard languages th at these people use are different
varieties, determined by different nations or different basic communities of in-
teraction (Van Coetsem 1957, 1970, Goossens 1972:10-26, and cf. section 1·3·5
(i) (c) above).36 These standards then in turn innuence the dialects, reinforcing the
differentiating effect of the national border. More recently Deprez (1985) has
shown that the Netherlandic-Belgian border remains remarkably effective as a
language boundary even in an area of very close interaction such as the well-
known Belgian Baarle-Hcrtog enclave in the Netherlands. Similarly, the
Netherlandic-German border illustrates very clearly the case of a political border
that has become in time a sharp language boundary (Goossens 1985:300, Berns
(ii) Certain factors often interfere with the above scenario of standardization:
specifically, the formation as weil as the expansion of a standard may be influ-
enced by migration and colonization.
(a) Neighboring dialccts may contribute to the formation of a standardizing
language. For example, in England in the 14th century, foIIowing astrong popu-

The lnteraction between Dialect and Standard Language 43

lation influx in London from the Midlands, the latter's contribution to standardiz-
ing English is significantly rcinforced (Görlach 1988: 142).
In colonization areas, where speakers of different dialects or even different
languages meet, and because of a need for mutual understanding, a more or less
levelled idiom may develop on the basis of a given, often al ready dominant
dialect or language. German offers an ilIustrative examplc. The standardization
process from which modem standard German ultimately evolved, had its roots
before the 13th century when East German regions were colonized by speakers
from other areas. A more or less levelled Ostmitteldeutsch, East Middle German,
developed, wruch has been called a koloniale Durchschnittsprache (Bach 1950:e.g.,
193), or Ausgleichssprache, a colonial levelled languageY This East Middle
German formed the basis for the language used in the 14th, 15th, 16th centuries
by the important chanceries of the Saxon electorate and of Prague. AIso, the fact
that Luther used the language of the Saxon chancery as the basis for his Bible
translation (16th century) was undoubtcdly a crucial factor in the development of
East Middle German to the German standard language (cf. also Schönfeld in trus
(b) As to the expansion of a standard language or of a standardizing language,
it follows patterns that we find in language spread in general (Cooper (ed.) 1982),
and is for an important part a question of diffusion. However, such an expansion
may also he implemented by migration and colonization, particularly in the interna-
tionalization process of a language. Standardization and internationalization may
overlap, and the colonization areas mentioned earlier, namely the United States
of America and South Africa concern not only standardization but also inter-
In both countries the language reflects a high degree of dialectal or regional
levelling, as is often the case in colonization areas (section 1·3·4 (i)). It is difficult
to say what kinds of English have been brought over to North America, although
there has been no lack of discussion about this topic; "the new •American' popu-
lation th at came directly from England was diverse and heterogeneous" (Dillard
1985:53), and, as can be gathercd from Dillard 's (1985) discussion of "a social
history of American English", dialectal or regionallevelling has been applied in
this area, as there was a diversity of immigrants and of language contact, includ-
ing pidginization and second language acquisition. In relation to levelling Mencken
(1941:5, 354) notes that all the "Early writers on the American language re-
marked its ... freedom from dialects", and he cites an interesting quote from John
Witherspoon, a Scottish clergyman, who came to North America and Iived there
in the second half of the 18th century. Witherspoon stated in 1781 that "The
vulgar in America speak much better than the vulgar in England, for a very

44 Frans van Coetsem

obvious reason, viz., that being much more unsettled, and moving frequently
from place to place, they are not so liable to local pcculiarities either in accent or
phraseaology." And Witherspoon went on saying: "There is a greater difference
in dialect bctween one county and another in Britain than there is between one
state and another in America" (cf. also Görlach 1988: 165).
Similarly, the seventeenth-century Dutch imported in Sou th Africa was not
strongly standardized and showed dialectal features (Raidt 1983: 16-8). The speak-
ers of that language may weIl have avoided and thus leve lIed out confusing
dissimilarities (Combrink 1978 :71-6, elaborating on O ' Neil 1978 :20-9, and cf.
Van Coetsem 1988:143).
(iii) Contrary to what is orten assumcd, pidgins and creoles are not, with
respect to standardization, a separate breed oflanguages (e.g., Weinreich 1953:69,
Kloss 1978:75). Such languages can develop to standards, and in this process
decreolization occurs. For example, although one can dcbatc the degree to which
Afrikaans is a pidginized and creolized language, there can be no doubt th at it is a
standardized Germanic language (Van Coetsem 1988:129-44).
(iv) In the standardization expansion a continual dialect-standard interaction
produces regiolects (scctions 1·3-4 (i), 2·2·1 (iv) (b».

3·3·3 A factor of eminent significance in standardization is the writlen language

(i) In the early standardization stages the wrillen language form appears to be
the major factor guiding standardization,3Xwhile the acquisition process is then
more a passive one. Different stages in the "text production" have been consid-
ered (Joseph 1987: 76 ff. referring to Kloss 1978:52 ff.). German again offers a
good example of the significance of the wriuen language in the earl ier stages of
its standardization developmenl. Middle High German, a prestigious literary lan-
guage, the chancery languages (Kanzleisprachen) with the sixteenth-century printer
languages (Druckersprachen) arc all standardizing wrilten languages (Schrift-
sprachen). Middle English offers comparable examples (Görlach 1988:141 ff.).
As long as a standard language is exclusively or mainly represented in a
wriuen form and the dialects function as thc spoken language, a spoken form of
the standard will bc to a large extent an imitation of thc writlen form, and it will
naturally show absence of social and stylistic stratification. IIlustrative of this
point is the example of Dutch in Bclgium, at least as it was spoken a couple of
decades ago (Van Coetscm 1957:24, Goosscns 1987:290). In that country the
dialects arc very much alive, and a spoken standard, which is strongly supported
by the wriuen form,39 is far from bcing generally used . In the Netherlands, on the
contrary, the standardization of Dutch has moved much more towards comple-

Thc Interaction bctwccn Dialec t and Standard Language 45

tion,40 and there is a commonly used spoken standard, which exhibits social and
stylistic stratification. As we have statcd earlier, we can speak of two national
varieties of Duteh, Northern Dutch in the Netherlands and Southem Dutch in the
northern part of Belgium. In our study of 1957 (p. 22-3) we mention an example
of the interaction between dialect and standard language. Where in Northern
Dutch as weU as in the Southern Dutch dialects the commonly used word for 'to
marry' is trouwen, a Southem Dutch speaker, applying his version of standard
Dutch, may weU speak of huwen, a word that bclongs to the written style, and that
therefore will be labeUed boekentaal 'bookish' by the Northern Dutch speaker.
Indeed, the standard spoken by Southem Dutch speakers has been perceived as
'bookish' (cf., e.g., Uijlings 1956:83, Geerts 1985:93, and Willemyns-Van de
Craen 1988:123). Although the examplc might be datcd, it remains valid.
(ii) More progressive stages in the standardization process show the develop-
ment of a spoken standard, as, e.g., in the mentioned case of Northern Dutch. In
other words, next to a written language with written style stratification, in nonnal
conditions a spoken standard develops with social and stylistic stratification.
(iii) With language standardizalion goes nonnally codification (e.g., diction-
aries, grammars), which in turn conlribule lO the regularization and homogeniza-
lion of the standard. This may develop lO slrong and even excessive prescriptive-
ness, while in general sclf-regulatizalion is more effective. For the question of
regularization and codification, as, e.g., in English, sec Gärlach (1988).
There are often discrepancies between language as a spoken communication
tooI and its codification. To a large extent such discrepancies are due to the fact
that language development is an ongoing process, albeit at variabIe rate, while
language codificalion occurs al variabIe inlervals.

3·3-4 Dialects are in compelilion in slandardizalion (selection), but so, to~, may
be standard varieties or standardizing varieties (regional varieties) themselves. In
different areas of genetically relaled dialects independent standardization proc-
esses may occur, which may lhen enter in competition with one another, with
possibly one of the compeling slandard or standardizing varieties supplanting the
others. For example, in the German area Ostmitteldeutsch, East Middle Gennan,
graduaUy supplanted another important chancery language, Gemeines Deutsch,
Common Gennan, which, based on Upper Gennan, was used as a standard lan-
guage in soulhem Gennany and Austria.

46 Frans van Coetsem

3·3·5 Language standardization (in the extended meaning of lhe word) is a multi-
dimensional phenomenon.
(i) The standardization process, in which a dialect grows to dominance and
spreads, represems dialect-standard convergence or vertical convergence, which
in turn occasions interdialectal or horizontal convergence (section 2·2·2). The
latter also occurs in colonization areas and may bc part of the standardization and
internationalization processes (section 3·3·2 (ii)). A typical example of conver-
gence, either vertical or horizontal, is the regiolect itsclf, which occurs in stabi-
lized or stabilizing forms. In so far as there is stabilization, bOlTowing by the
regiolect mayalso occur, cither from the standard (interaction type 2) or from the
dialect (interaction type 3).
(ii) Language standardizalion is somelimes visualized as a pyramid or lrian-
gle represeming the development from dialecls lO a slandard language (e.g.,
Moser 1950: 225 ff.) . This pyramidal represenlalion may be praclical and sugges-
tive, but it is an oversimplicalion. It has obviously been conceived in the line of
thinking lhat produced lhe family tree of languages.

3·3·6 There is also the queslion of funclionality (claboration of function) of a

standard or standardizing language, as wc have already mentioned (section 1·3·6) .
A standardizing languagc broadens its funclionalily (scclion 3·2·2 (i) (a)), and
ideally, a standard language fulfills alllhe communicalive funclions of the soci-
ety thal il serves; it is th en lhe communicalion medium of lhe community, of its
administralion, economy, lileralure and science, for example . Difference in the
frequency of usage of the communicalive funclions is also a factor to take inlo

3·3·7 Difference in the rale of lhe slandardizing development and in the rate of
expansion or spread of the standard depends on a numbcr of social circumstances.
For example, in our part of the world recent social deve1opments, as weB as the
growing communication possibilities arc factors lhal no doubl speed up language
standardizalion and spread, and counteracl the use of dialect.

3·3·8 Finally, the speakcr's general language awareness and in particular hls
evaluative (positive, negative or neutral) attitude lowards dialect and standard
language is another faclor in lhe standardization process. Language awareness is
often increascd by linguislic oppression, when a speech community is somehow
on the defensive.
Acceplance of a slandard "by the relevant population as the variety of the
community - usually, in facl, as lhe nalionallanguage" is a requircment (Hudson

Thc Inlcraction bclwccn Dialecl and Slandard Languagc 47

1980:101-2). The standard is then a unifying factor, and has been political1y used
as such. There is an important poli tic al aspect to standardization (Joseph 1987:72
Language awareness may express itself in various ways. For example, self-
identification may be a motive to promote aspecific variety of a standard lan-
guage, as in the case of Southem Dutch (Deprez 1981, Ure land (ed.) (1986:90ff.),
Geerts 1985:101-2).

4·1 Language standardization vs. language internationalization

4·1·1 In the broader perspective of language standardization we will also look at
language intemationalization. 41 They are both multifaceted phenomena, which to
a large extent share a common basis . Dialcct-standard interaction and language
standardization are thcn part of a grcaler contact development that also includes
language interaction and language intcmalionalization (globalization); indeed,
intemationalization is an overlapping eXlension of standardization. Both stand-
ardization and intemalionalizalion, exhibiling compctilion and selection (Ward-
haugh 1987), are basically the same development at different stages of conver-
gence and expansion.42 They are part of the total language evolution that has
divergence and convergence as evolulionary prototypes (section 3·2·2). In turn
this language evolution reflects the sociclal devclopmcnt, i.e., change in the basic
communities of interaction.
We have mentioned lhe differcncc in funclionality (sec ti on 1·3·6 (ii)) be-
tween standard language and international language. We have also noted (sec-
ti on 3·3'1) that standardization can have lwO meanings: a narrow one in which
interaction types affect only the slandard, and an extended one in which interac-
tion types affect bOlh the standard and lhe subordinate dialecls (cf. diagram (5)).
Similarly, internationalization can have lwo mcanings: a narrow one in which
interaction types affecl only the intemationalized language, and an extended one
in which interaction types affecl all languages involved. Diagram (5) is then as

si rl
1. LANG . 1 lang. 2 (si agcntivity, imposition by LANG. 1)
2. lang. 2 LA NG. 1 (rl agcnlivily, borrowing by LANG. 1)
3. lang. 1 LANG . 2 (rl agcntivily, borrowing by LANG. 2)
4. LANG. 2 lang. 1 (sI agenlivity .. imposition by LANG. 2)

48 Frans van Coetscm

4·1 ·2 Dialect-standard interaction / language standardization and language inter-
action / language internationalization display fundamental paraBels, but also dif-
ferences, which arc more of a circumstantial or functional nature.
(i) Wc first list some other paraBels bet ween the two phenomena.
(a) In internationalizalion like in slandardizalion, the contact is primarily
based on interaction type 1. In the process of interlanguage intermediate varieties
/ shortfall varielies occur in internalionalization as welJ as in slandardization, as is
illustrated by Nigerian English (seclion 1·3·5 (ii) (a)).
(b) Like in dialect-slandard interaction (seclion 2·2·1 (iv) (c)), in 1anguage
interaction wc find cases of less welJ characterized dislinction belween the two
transfer types, i.c., less predictabIc 'mutual infiltration' of the contacling lan-
guages. Dillard (1985 :246-7) remarks thai "lhe batlle belween English and Span-
ish in Puerto Rico has been a real strugglc. not without damage to the speakers of
both languages if not to lhe languages themselves".
(c) Mainly as a resuIt of semantic interference. and specificalJy ofborrowing
(interaclion type 2). the more recent development of the languages in the Western
world, where English is presently lhe dominanllanguage, iIIuslrales very clearly
interna1 mulual convergence,43 in lhe same way as dialccl-slandard inleraclion
and standardizalion do (sections 2·2·2, 3·3·5 (i)). Yel, wc should not think that
such an inlerference belween languages is something ncw (e.g., MeilJet 1926:343-
50, Wandruszka 1971); il has taken place in the past, however, not on the large
scale il is occurring now. Wilh lhe growing possibililies of communicalion lhe
languages of the Western socielies become more and more comparable,44 mosl1y
in their Icss stabIc domains or subdomains. lhal is, in lhe contenlive parts of their
vocabularies (words and phrases).45 The growing correspondence between Euro-
pean languages is reflecled in a rapidly increasing amount of so-called interna-
tionalisms (Braun ct al. (eds.) 1990, JabiOllski 1990, both with further refer-
ences). Braun (1990:32) mentions G. Korlén as having slated in 1976 that the
internal semantic slruclure of most European languages is so related, "daB man
bcrechtigt ist, von einem abendländischen Sprachausgleich zu sprechen". This is
a case of conceptuallcvelling.
While they grow lowards grealer correspondence mainly in their vocabu-
laries, and again as dialccts do in dialccl-slandard interaction, the European lan-
guages preserve better their more stabJe domains. in particular their phonologies
and grammars. The lexico-semantic influence lhat these languages arc now un-
dergoing from English is a unifying faclor. Yet, newly imported forei!,'ll words
and phrases remain subject to the speci fic phonological , grammatical and lexical
adaptation of each particular language (cf. seclion 2·2·2); furthermore, sueh adap-
tation, particularly the phonological one, shows differences of degree as well as

Thc Intcrac tion bctwccn Dialect and StandaTl! Languagc 49

variation (Van Coetsem 1988:20-1, Jablonski 1990:189 ff.). Another fonn of
adaptation in the borrowing process is represented by loan translations for which
some speech communities show a certain predilection. 46
As we have observed (section 2·2·2), together with interaction type 1 (si
agentivity, acquisition) interaction type 2 (rl agentivity, borrowing) is the most
common fonn of interlingual contact. ft is therefore not surprising that Kahane
(1983:232-3) mentions and discusses them together in relation with the concept
of world language, stating that the laner "implies a two-pronged process of
acquisition and integration" (corresponding to our interaction types 1 and 2,
respecti vel y).
(d) As in dialect-standard intcraction (scction 2·2·3), interaction type 3 occurs
in intemationalization; this is excmplilïcd by English borrowingperestroika from
(ii) We also mention some diffcrcnces bctween dialect-standard interaction /
language standardization and language interaction / language internationalization.
These differences are lO a large extent directly relatcd to the potentially important
functional distinction between dialect and language (scction 1·2·1).
(a) In general the functional distinction between dialect and standard lan-
guage in standardization is very important, but the same distinction between
languages in intemationalization is unimportant or virtually nonexistent. Because
ofthis, interaction type 2 has a far grealer signilïcance in intemationalization than
in standardization.
(b) While in standardization a complex and c1aborate fonnation of the lan-
guage is intertwined with its expansion, in language intemationalization it is the
spread of the language th at is the primary event. The multiple causality of this
spread, in which migration and colonizalion usually play a major role, is far more
difficuIt to pinpoint than in the case of standardization.
(c) In intemationalization the range of languages or language varieties in-
volved, including pidgins and creoles, is far greater than in standardization. In
this connection we note that reduction is far more opcrative in intemationaliza-
tion than in standardization, as, e.g., pidginization shows.
(d) In language interaction and intemationalization, this being an aspect of
foreign language acquisition, the leamer's language is not subordinated to the
target language as in the case of dialect-standard interaction and standardization.
(e) As to attrition, wc have some idea of its role in standardization, but we
know far Iess about its roIe in intemationalization. Given the difference in func-
tion referred to under (a) above, attrition is bound to be more severe in standardi-
zation than in internationalization.

50 Frans van Coetscm

(f) Because of the nature of the ethno-cultural differences bctween languages
and language varieties pragmatic aspects will bc in general far more consequen-
tial in language interaction / language internationalization than in dialect-stand-
ard interaction / language standardization (section 2·5).

4·2 English as the leading international language

4·2·1 In the past, as is well-known, a numbcr of languages have become presti-
gious, and have also served in different functions as auxiliary languages in certain
areas of the globe. In the present competition to achieve the status of global
language, English was in the view of Meneken (1941 :593) already half a century
ago "far ahead of any compctitor", and it is now thc unchaIlenged front runner. A
unique concurrence of external factors, and even an internalone, has determined
the present international status of English, as weIl as its potential to funher
strengthen that status. Such factors occur c1sewhere but not in the combination
and totality th at characterizes English.
(i) In matters of language Britain has been very successful as a colonial
power, as it has established English all over the world. The United States, a
former British colony, has significantly contributed to promoting English as a
world language, and it seems now to play even the leading roIe in this respect.
Being represented as a native language in four world continents, English pres-
ently has more than any comparablc language a strategicaIly favorable interna-
tional distribution. Languages as Spanish and French have achieved international
status, but not by far to the same extent as English.
There are many reasons why English continues to be thriving as an interna-
tional language, e.g., it is a symbol of technological modernism and liberalism,
and it is a preferred language in trade and science (e.g., Fishman 1983: IS, Haugen
1987:85, 144). By the very fact that so many people all over the world lcarn and
use English as an auxiliary, internationallanguage, there is a very decisive factor
at work. English is used and promoled by a conslantly and rapidly growing
number of nonnative speakers, so much so, thal their amount may now surpass
that of the native speakers. This "spread has reached such an order of magnitude
that it is now significanlly fostered by the non-English mother-tongue world"
itself (Fisman 1983 : 15). This nonnative English is "the olher tongue" or "the
other si de of English", as Kachru (1983a) has characterized it. English seems
indeed to bccome lcss the 'property' of lhe English mother-longue nations and
more the language of choice of lhe international community. If this evolution,
that is, the gradual dissociation and growing lO independenee of English from its

Thc Interaction bctwccn Di alect and Standard Language 51

'grandparent and parcnt' countries, Britain and the United States, goes on, it
could lead to a tremendous breakthrough, indeed to a 'coming of age' of English
as the global communication medium. This would have all kind of (good and
bad) consequences for both the native and nonnative English-speaking communi-
ties. English would then become politically, ethnicaUy and culturaBy a 'neutral'
language. The fate of the English language would he dissociated more and more
from the political fate of the mother-tongue countries. 47
(ii) An intemal feature of English, its strong analytic make-up, may he a
favorable factor in its international expansion. It should, however, he weB under-
stood that this analytic make-up could only be of some significance after English
had achieved an international status. Wc certainly do not concur with the old and
popular opinion among nonlinguists that English is a'simple' and 'easy' lan-
(a) English is weU prepared internally for its international mission, and Haugen
(1987:87) has stated this in a di rect and suggestive way: "The Germanic base
brought to England by the Anglo-Saxons has been reduced to an almost creolized
set of form words in a more analytic than synthetic grammar. The lexicon reflects
the successive ruling elites of England from the Romans and Celts to the Vikings
and the Normans. By natural select ion it has achieved a form that meets the needs
of an intemationallanguage beller than any of its artificial rivals like Esperanto."
(b) The development of English to an analytic language is a metaconditioned,
intema11y induced change that affected all of the Germanic languages to different
degrees; in English the devc10pment has reached its most progressive stage (with
Afrikaans as a case in itself), which has been explained as the result of multiple
contact with neighboring languages or dia1ccts (e.g., O'Neil 1878, Van Coetsem
1988:51-2, 136-7). English has also been amply exposed to language contact
outside of Europe and has absorbed a variety of lexico-semantic material from
other cultures. It has also not been subject 10 a strongly centralizing standard-
ization as has been the case with French.
(c) The question is how the analytic make-up of English can be seen as a
favorable factor in the internationalization of that language. The answer is th at
from the very bcginning of the acquisition of English, and more than is the case
with any other comparable international language, the 1carner can readily resort
to reduced varieties for the convenience of less sophisticated or less demanding
communicative situations. In other words, more than any other intemationallan-
guage, English lends itself easily for usage with a minimal know1cdge of the
language. In the first half of th is century a reduced variety of English was de-
signed and codified by e.K . Ogden as Basic English (British, American, Science,
International, Commercial) to serve as an international auxiliary language. 48 This

52 Frans van Coctscm

Basic English has a lexicon of only 850 words, the reduction occuning mainly on
the lexico-semantic level, since English has a naturally reduced morphology (in
spi te of the strong verbs).49 Although Basic English, which is thus partly an
artificiallanguage, did not expcrience any beller reception than completely artifi-
cial languages such as Esperanto and Volapük, it proved a point, namely, that
English could be conveniently reduced, without necessarily becoming, e.g., . for-
eign talk' (Lattey 1989) or a 'pidginized' variely. This brings us to conclude that
ifan artificially fonned and codified Basic English can be applied, so can rcduced
varieties of English that are naturally and spontaneously fonned in response to a
need by individual lcamers and users of the language, this bcing done with a
limited vocabulary as weil as with phonological and possibly syntactic imposi-
ti on (interaction type 1).50

4·2·2 Some have viewed intemationalization as a threat to the very existence of

English, as we know it now. The idea has been expressed that, given its global
expansion, English may split up into a variety of dialccts or languages in a similar
way as did, for instance, Proto-Germanic and Proto-Romance. Actually, English
is now represented in more varieties than ever, mUlually intelligible and unintelli-
gible ones. Vet, the comparison of English with Proto-Gennanic and Proto-Ro-
mance is flawed (cf., e.g., Strevens 1985:25 IT.), because of a complete difference
in the prevailing communication conditions existing between the Proto-Gennanic
and Proto-Romance times and now. The question of language fragmentation
must be seen against the background of the general communicative development
of human society. At the time of the Proto-Gennanic and Proto-Romance
fragmentations, divergence occurred as a natural consequence of the fact that the
Gennanic and Romance speech communities had stretched themselves beyond
the limits of their respective basic communities of interaction. With the now
existing and still growing possibilities for global communication and interaction,
it is virtually impossible for English to overextend itself. In the future, divergence
will only be able to take place in areas where the trend to intemationalization is
absent or irrelevant. However, even in such areas the trend 10 globalization is
bound to take place sometime, and as soon as this occurs, convergence will most
probably take over and remove the effects of the fonner divergence. There is in
the case of English a constant or at least recurrent 'corrective' presence or avail-
ability of standard varieties. And, as Oillard (1985:251) points out, we observe
now "a greater approximation to prestigious varieties of English among the non-
native speakers who abound in many part" of the world". Interesting in this
connection is the devc10pment of varieties of English in mainland China. As
Cheng (1983: 138) reports: "When China is inward-Iooking, the English there

The Interaction bctween Dialect and Standard Languagc 53

acquires more Chinese elements"; he refers then in particular to an early phase
when Chinese Pidgin English developed (starting from the 17th century) and later
declined. But he adds, also referring to more recent times, th at: "when China is
outward-Iooking, English there is more Iike the norm in the West." Indeed, if
English maintains its international status in the growing global communication
pattem, the possibility of an irreversibIc fragmentation of the language is virtu-
a1ly nonexistent.

4·3 Language internationalization and the future global

language constellation
4·3·1 With the above succinct comparison between standardization and interna-
tionalization, specifically the intemationalization of English, the question automati-
caUy arises what the global languagc constcUation in the (far) future might beo
However, do we have the necessary data to handle such a question?
(i) The fact is that we do not know enough about the effects of standardization
on dialects, the process bcing far from completed. And we are even Icss informed
about internationalization. Do dialccts disappear under the pressure of a standard
language? In some cases they obviously do. In other cases they disappear by
dissolving into compromise forms between the dialect and the standard. In certain
areas, such as in Switzerland in case of diglossia, they even survive, at least for
now. For all this there are underlying social factors, which, however, are subject
to change, and may lead to irreversible situations.
(ii) We see how strongly some communities react when their languages as a
symbol of their cuItural identities arc threatened . In fact, together with language
intemationalization and triggered by political and nationalistic considerations,
the numbcr of standard and / or literary languages in the world has significantly
increased (Burney 1962: 120-1, Fishman 1983: 18). The nature of the human bc-
ing and his relationship to his language or dialect is intricate and changeable,
being determined or motivated by a complex interplay between reason and emo-
tion. This makes predicting very hazardous. The human being has a social nature,
but an inherent need for self-affirmation as weU . There is a continu al interaction
bet ween the individual and the community, bctween the group and the subgroup,
but this interaction is a1ways in a state of tension. Furthermore, language as
communication tooI rcflccts aspecific way of conceptualizing.
(iii) We cannot be sure that such a trend as the internationalization of English
will continue. Against all expectations circumstances may change, and with them
a trend may be counteracted, stopped or even reversed.

54 Frans van Coetsem

Even English, as the international front runner language, is challenged. While
until recently it has been de facto if not de jure the (only) officiallanguage in the
United States,51 Spanish has started to challenge this position in certain areas of
the land (Guy 1989, Adams-Brink (eds.) 1990).
If English becomes more and more the global auxiliary language, will it stay
an auxiliary language or trigger extinclion of other languages. "If English 'en-
joys' the position of being virtually the 'H' language in a world diglossie situa-
tion" (Dillard 1985:253), what will SLOp il from eliminating lhe use of some or
even all other languages? To slate it as extremcly as can be, could we be on our
way to a monolingual global community, however far in lhe fulure such an idea
might have to be projectcd? Could in such a case the need for self-affirmation or
self-idenlification be satisfied through the dcliberale use of varielies of one lan-
guage, thal is, through language variation, language shibboIelhs and espccially
accent (pronunciation) differences? Or will humanity somehow preserve or re-
coup a mulLilingual society through forms of diglossia wilh, e.g., English as lhe
auxiliary language, that is, lhrough regulalion "via both status and corpus plan-
ning" (Fishman 1983 : 16 ff.)? Fishman (p. 18) notes that " littIe languages have
leamed lo stand lheir ground wilh respecl lO English, and to carve out domains
into which English has littIe or no entree".52 Why then could we11 established
languages with great and venerabIc (written) lradilions nol survive?

4·3·2 We are not the firsl or lhe only ones lo wonder and be ambivalent about the
possib1e 'side effects' of language internationalization. Considering the lack of
success of a Scandinavian intercommunication language, Haugen (1987:81) con-
cludes on a rather pessimistie no te that "The alternative for Scandinavians is to
turn to an outside language, formerly German, now English, in their mutual
contacts. One regrets this necessity, if that is wh at it is. In the long run it would
mean the death of all the Nordic languages and the cultures thcy represent." But
at a later stage of his discussion (p. 88-9), stating that "in Scandinavia one also
encountcrs fears th at English may lead to extinction of the nalive languages", he
adds more oplimistically: HIt is my conviction that lhis is unlikely; we know ofno
such example ."
For the time being wc lack the necessary perspective to establish how far the
similarities and differences bctween st,mdardization and internationalization reach.
The only thing wc arc able to do in lhis respect is lO formulale the basic relation-
ship. And whilc dcaling with the issue, we hope to have asked the appropriate
questions, but wc arc also very much aware th at only time and more research will
supply the answers.

The lnteraction between Dialect and Standard Language 55


• This is an elaborated vers ion of a lecture at the International Colloquium 'Dialect and Standard
Language' ofthe Netherlands Royal Academy of Arts and Sciences (Amsterdam), from October 15
to 18, 1990. I am grateful to those who have read a version of the manuscript and have provided me
with their comments, namely, O. Leys, E.M . Uhlenbeck, C. van Bree, E. Young Ballard, and the
members of the Organizing Committee who were also helpfuI in other ways, J.B. Berns, M.E.H.
Schouten and J.A. van Leuvensteijn. lamalso indebted to Deborah McGraw for revising the
English style.
Language distance and functionality are also the factors contained in the wel1-known distinction
bet ween Abstand- and Ausbausprache, that is, respcctively, 'Ianguage by virtue of structural dis-
tance' and 'Ianguage by virtue of standardization' (e.g., Kloss 1978:23 fr., Weinreich 1953 :69, and
see also the discussion in Joseph 1987:2-3).
2 Cf. the case of French patois vs. dialecte, as interpreted by Dauzat (1938 : 30); see, ho wever, also
Martinet (1960: 154 fr.).
From a pcdagogical viewpoint one can sec this in the prospect of difference in norm; cf., e.g.,
Valdman (1989 :264-7).
Interesting in this respect is the situation of Dutch in Belgium as described by Geerts (1985 :102
ff., with further references). For \imitation to variation in the standard, cf. Joseph (1987: 127 -9).
Recent discussions of such cases are found in Dorian (ed.) (1989).
6 Terms other than inJerlanguage have been used; sec Van Coetsem (1988:57 -8).
7 Wc owe the term to Strevens (1983 :28), who uses the notion of short/all variation in reference to
I The term accent has different meanings in linguistics. In the context of our discussion, it refers
to a distinguishing way of pronouncing, a choracteristic whole of articulatory habits, or a "mode of
ullerance" (OED) peculiar to an individual, an area or a social level; the fact that a ' way of
pronouncing' has an arcalor social connotation is the key point heren. In this meaning accent is the
layman's usage of the word, but it is now regularly utilized in sociolinguistic studies. Research will
have to detcrmine the linguistic implications of the notion.
9 Northern Dutch refers here to the variety of Dutch used in the Netherlands as opposed to
Southern Dutch as the variety of Dutch used in the northern part of Belgium.
10 Cf. French patois françisé. jrançais régional (Dauzat 1938:33 ff.).

11 It is ascribcd to a strategy known in sociology as accommodation and applied in the study of

language and dialect contact (e.g., Trudgi111986, Van Coctsem 1988:167), that is, the speakers of
the contacting languages or dialects concentrate on shared features and avoid dissimilarities.
12 For the notion of diasystem, sec section 2.2.1 (iii) (a).

13 E.g., already BIoomfield (1933:49): "In matters of pronunciation, especially the range of stand-
ard English in America is wide: greatly different pronunciations, such as those, say, of North
Carolina and Chicago, are accepted equally as standard."
14 The distinction in the 'gender ' system of substantives (producing a difference in pronorninal
reference) between Northern and Southem Dutch dialects is considered part of the overall Dutch
standard (Woordenlijst 1954), and does not appear subjectto social stigmatization (cf. also Van
Leuvensteijn in this volume).
IS French influence may have have been at work here, in spite of the developmental differences
between French and English (GriIlo 1989, and also Görlach 1988:150). Social stigmatization of
regional language varieties and dialects, and espccially a strong tendency to centralization are
features which characterizc the standardization process of French, which may have had a certain
impact on the standardization processes of other European languages.
16 Cf. Daan et al.(1985:50) : "Een cultuurdialect is een taal die wel als communicatiemiddel van
een kleine groep gebruikt wordt, maar tevens buiten die groep, als gevolg vaneen hogere economische
en culturele ontwikkeling van het gebied waar dat dialect wordt gesproken."

56 Frans van Coetsem

17 Already in the winter of 1929-'30 when in London, Mencken ventured to say: "The Englishman,
whether he knows or nOl, is lalking and wriling more and more Amcrican. He becomes 50 accus-
tomed to it lhal he grows unconscious of il. Things lhal would have sel his lCelh on edge len years
ago, or even live years ago, are now inlegral parlS of his daily speech" (Mencken 1941 :31).
11 In lighl of all this, one may perhaps envision a certain directionalily in the developmenl of the
two now clearly differentialed variclies of DU1Ch, the Northern one in the Netherlands and the
Southem one in the northern pari of 8elgium. The facl thai the laller is still in the process of
standardization contribules significanlly 10 the dislinction. With the very favorable communication
circumstances, the lwo DUlch varielies may through a process of self-regulation proceed further on
the way 10 a relalive lexical uniformization and end up being nOlhing more than differenl
nonstigmalized accent varielies (Knops 1982:239, Gecrts 1985: 101-2).
19 In our rnonograph of (1988:2) wc inlroduced imposition as a lechnicallerm opposed 10 borrow-
ing. We did lhis because such lerms as interference, promOled by Weinreich (1953:1), were nOl
specific enough. We also nOled thai the word imposition had "occasionally been used as a nonlech-
nical lerm", and for lhis we rcfcrrcd (p.163) 10 Grosjean (1982: 190), Milroy (1983:43), Gass
(1983:70) and Trudgill (1983:205).we could also have referred to Weinreich (1953: 18) hirnself,
who wrote: "Over-differentiation of phonemes involves the imposition of phonemic distinctions
from the primary system on the sounds of the secondary system, where they are not required."
Interestingly, also in French the verb imposer has been used in precisely the contexl in which we
apply it technically. See 8umey (1962:25): "Là même ou ils ont l'air de survivre, les dialectes sont
extraordinairement pénétrés de français commun. 115 tendent a se dissoudre peu à peu dans la
langue commune qui leur impose jusqu'à des mots-outils ("afin que", "vu que", "Ià ou" entrent ainsi
dans ses parlers méridionaux)."
20 Van Bree makes further distinctions in stability based on circumstantial or situalional differ-
ences, e.g., firsl vs. second language acquisition .
21 Interesting in the broader perspective of interlingual contact is the occasional s transfer from the
verbal system of English to that of American Dutch (e.g., schrijfs for schrijft 'writes', praats for
praat 'talks') (Van Marle-Smits 1988:42, Van Marle-SmilS, forthcoming).
22 The Southern Dutch dialectal form damme with [a] is based on the French pronunciation, while
standard Dutch (that is, in this case Northern Dutch) dame with [a:] is based on the spelling
However, the name of the checkers game is in ooth Northern and Southern Dutch dammen( spel).
For comparabIe cases of difference in the way of borrowing (from French) via either pronunciation
or spelling bet ween Northern and Southern Duteh, cf. Van CoclSem (1988: 101 ff.).
2] OulSide of the acquisition process, reduction may not be proficiency-related; for example,
accommodation mayalso result in reduction.
2. As far as gender is concerned, cf. now Brouwer (1989).

n Hoppenbrouwers (1985:150): "In gebieden waar het regiolect wordt gebezigd, vinden we een
continuüm van tussen taalvormen met de algemene laaI als eindpunt van deze reeks."
26 In Eisenstein (ed.) (1989) a number of studies (especially in theoretical part I) discuss the
occurrence and mechanism of variation in interlanguage from different angles.
27 Van CoelSem (1957:21): "De verbreiding en ook de vorming van de algemene omgangstaal is
dus thans in Vlaams-België nog steeds een proces in wording. Van een eenheidstaal in de zin van
het Noordnederlands of van het Frans kan daar om begrijpelijke redenen vooralsnog geen sprake
zijn. Elk min of meer ernstig streven tot distantiëring van het dialekt in de richting van de algemene
taal kan op het ogenblik in Vlaams-België "beschaafd" worden genoemd. En deze pogingen vallen
nogal verschillend uit naar gelang van de omstandigheden waarin de taalgebruikers zich bevinden,
zoals hun geooorte- of verblijfplaats, leeftijd en graad van ontwikkeling; dialektische en Franse
invloeden laten zich hierbij in ruime mate gelden. De taalvorm van de Vlaamse "beschaafdsprekers"
beweegt zich dus tussen een soort van gezuiverd dialekt en, in enkele gevallen, een zogoed als
zuiver Noordnederlands ... Cf. also Goossens (1973b:230).
21 Cf. Auer - di Luzio (1988:5): "when distinguishing Umgangs- and Ausgleichssprachen one has
to keep in mind that horizontal convergence is usually influenccd by a co-existent standard variety
(if there is one), that is, it incorporates aspects of vertical convergence bet ween dialect(s) and the

The Interaction between Dialect and Standard Language 57

standard as weil. In a parallel fashion, vertical convergence usually diminishes differenees between
neighbouring dialect varieties and therefore also implies aspects of koineformation. "
29 For language attrition and language death, whose research is very much involved in methodological
issues, cf., e.g., Dorian (1981), Dressler (1981), Lambcrt-Freed (eds.) (1982), Hagen (ed.) (1986),
Weltens et al. (eds) (1986), Dorian (ed.) (1989), all with further references.
JO In a broader sense code swirching has also been uscd to refer to a comparabie shift from one style
or register to another within the same language or language variety. In such cases it seems more
appropriate to speak of sryle and regisler swirching.
31 The notion of relexificalion applied in research on pidginization-creolization has also been
mentioned as a form of interaction between dialect and standard language (WelIs 1982:7); cf. now
also Van Bree (1990:309). lt is defmed by Lchiste (1988:95) as: "Very rapid replacement of the
vocabulary of a language by le)(ical items taken from another language."
32 The not ion of speech communiry (linguislic communiry) is differently defined (Hudson 1980:
254 ff.).
33 In this connection one can refer to the overall picture drawn by Haugen (1987:27 ff.) of what he
calls "an ecological model", which is based on his earlier research, as weil as on work of 1.
Gumperz, J. Fishman and W. Labov .
34 There are problems with the evaluation of isoglosses, especially with their grading, although we
should consider differences in stability betwecn, for e)(ample, le)(ical and structural isoglosses. We
cannot go into these questions here (for a discussion, cf. Chambers-Trudgill 1980: chapters 7 and
3' Number 2 of Sociolinguislica . /nlernational Yearbook of European Sociolinguislics, which has
been published in 1988 and is cditcd by Mattheier, is devoted to the study of language standardiza-
tion, in particular in the Germanic languages. The volume contains some new and updating contribu-
tions to the subject, e.g., Görlach dealing with English (in an informative and important study),
Besch with German, Loman with the Scandinavian languages, Willemyns and Van de Craen with
Dutch in Belgium.
36 Chambers-Trudgill (1980:10 ff.) use in this cormection the term heleronomy (dependence), this
being the opposite of aulonomy (independence), and they write (p. 11): "The Dutch dialects are
heteronornous with respect to standard Dutch, and the German dialects to standard German. This
means, simply, that speakers of the Dutch dialects consider that they are speaking Dutch, that they
read and write in Dutch, that any standardising changes in their dialects wil! be towards Dutch, and
that they in general look to Dutch as the standard language which narurally corresponds to their
vernacular varieties." In such a conception standard Dutch and standard German are superirnposed
varieties on the dialect continuurn .
37 In this connection it may bc useful to mention the study of Scholtmeijer (1990) about the Dutch
variety used in an area which has been during thls century reclaimed from the sea (Zuiderzee) and
colonized by immigrants from different parts of the Netherlands . Unfortunately, the study deals
virtually only with pronunciation questions (accent). Whereas the speakers of the older generation,
the immigrants themselves, keep naturally their original aecents, the speakers of the younger
generation. bom in the new area, have, quite e)(pectedly, uniform (peer) accents ofthe neighboring
regions where they go to work and where they partly co me from . This also can be considered a form
of levelling.
]I Cf.Haarmarm (1988). How much the wriuen form functions as a guide especially in the begin-
ning stages of language standardization is illustratcd by what the average dialect speaker of (South-
em) Dutch of a former generation considercd standard speech, namely op (naar) de leller spreken
'to speak as it is wrinen' .
39 There are other factors involvcd, as more recent research has clearly shown (e.g., Geens 1985).

40 Cf. Hagen (1986:106): "Als men de verspreing en aanvaarding van de standaardtaal ziet als de
diffusie van een innovatie, zou men mogen vaststellen dat het irmovatieproces op dit moment in
Nederland diep doorgedrongen is in de 'late meerderheid', terwijl het in Vlaanderen pas net de
'vroege meerderheid' bereikt lijkt te hebben. "

58 Frans van Coetsem

41 Language internationalization is a not a new research topic; see Burney (1962: 105 ff., with
earlier references).
42 Although internationalization can result from a split, it is in reference to expansion that we
consider it here.
43 The idea is cenainly not new . Cf., e.g., Burney (1962:104): "Les langues s'interpénètrent." The
borrowing does nol have to be only from English. For example, German einschälzen 'to evaluate'
has been borrowed during the last decades into Dutch, inschallen (not yet occurring in earli~
editions of VanDaIe (1961") and Koenen (195 PO) and from Dutch into Frisian, yrukatle (e.g., in UI
de smidlefan de Fryske Akademy 24 (1990,3 :18).
401 We use here the general and neutral term comparable to avoid such notions as congruent and
equivalent, which are used in this context in specific meanings; cf., e.g., Schaeder (1990:64-5).
45 For stability differences, cf. also Volmerl 1990:55.

46 In this connection, see the typological distinctions in mixed languages proposcd by Décsy
(1973: 184) and Kloss (1978 :334 ff.) .
47 E.g., Kachru (cd.) (1983), in particular Ferguson (1983:ix-xi), Kachru (1983a). Platt et al.
(1984:201), FlaiLZ (1988 :1).
41 Basic English has had "a number of sompetitors on its own ground", see Mencken (1941 :605).

49 A comparabIe Basic French or Basic Spanish would contain 2000 words and have a far more
complex grammatical component than Basic English (Burney 1962:77). Basic English has only 18
verbs, with 10 gel having an extensive range of meanings.
50 How much an analytic make-up is now a natural anribute of an international auxiliary language
is shown by the fact that in 1903 the Italian mathematician Giuseppe Peano proposed for the
purpose of an auxiliary language a 'simplified' Latin as a language without injleclion (!) (Burney
51 In the case of English in the Unitcd States one could speak of a 'national' language instead of an
'official' language; see Ruiz (1990: 18-20).
52 In an interesting study about Breton vs. French, Kuter (1989:82) also refers to people, who "feel
that efforts to maintain 'linIe languages' are a waste of time." Kuter mentions the case of the
Parisian professor Gérard Antoine, who in Le Figaro of december 13, 1975 askcd the question
whether "[IJt is wise or opportune to urge linIe French children towards a bi- or tri-lingualism
turned not towards the future of the planet, but towards the past of a little country." However, it
would he also interesting to know how Antoine would react, if French would develop to a 'linIe
language' in a global environment of perhaps a distant future; this is not necessarily an unrealistic
or rhetorical question, considering how much French has lost of its international expansion in the
past five decades.

The Interaction between Dialect and Standard Language 59



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